Governor’s powers to appoint VCs of state universities

Tamil Nadu has passed two Bills proposing to take away the Governor’s powers to appoint VCs of state universities. The Bills also seek to empower the state government to have the final word on the removal of VCs, if needed.

Utility: UPSC, JPSC, BPSC Prelims & Mains
Section: Polity : Governance, Governor, State Universities

Key Points

  • The Bills stress that “every appointment of the Vice-Chancellor shall be made by the Government from out of a panel of three names” recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.
  • Removal will be carried out based on inquiries by a retired High Court judge or a bureaucrat who has served at least as a Chief Secretary.
  • TN Chief Minister has stated that the Bills were required as the Governor was disregarding the state government’s opinion on the appointments of VCs.

Role of UGC and Other Provisions

  • Education comes under the Concurrent List, but entry 66 of the Union List gives the Centre substantial authority over higher education.
  • Here, the University Grants Commission (UGC) plays standard-setting role, even in the case of appointments in universities and colleges.
  • According to the UGC Regulations, 2018, “Visitor/Chancellor” — mostly the Governor in states — shall appoint the VC out of the panel of names recommended by search-cum-selection committees.
  • Higher educational institutions, particularly those that get UGC funds, are mandated to follow its regulations.

Supreme Court Observation

  • Any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto”.
  • Every subordinate legislation of the UGC flows from the parent UGC Act, 1956.
  • Therefore, being a subordinate legislation, UGC Regulations become part of the Act.
  • In case of any conflict between state legislation and central legislation, central legislation shall prevail.
  • This by applying the rule/principle of repugnancy as enunciated in Article 254 of the Constitution.
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