Shinde govt restores Governor Koshyari’s powers to appoint vice chancellors
The Eknath Shinde-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government continues its spree of reversing the decisions taken by the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime
The Eknath Shinde-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government continues its spree of reversing the decisions taken by the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime. On Tuesday, it restored the powers of the governor to appoint vice chancellors of public universities by withdrawing the bill to amend the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016.
The state cabinet has also decided to reconstitute the development boards of Vidarbha, Marathwada and rest of Maharashtra, whose tenure had ended on April 30, 2020. It, however, clarified that it had no intention to scrap Shiv Bhojan thali, a subsidised meal scheme rolled out in January 2020.
The Act stipulates that the governor appoint a search committee which would recommend five names from which the governor would pick one as vice chancellor. However, following its bitter tussle with Governor B S Koshyari, the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government decided to curtail his powers.
On December 15, 2021, the state introduced an amendment bill that empowered the government to constitute a search committee to suggest five names. It mandated that the governor choose from two names recommended by the state for the appointment of a vice chancellor.
Raj Bhavan, however, refused to give his assent to the bill on the grounds that it had received representations from certain sections such as students, teachers and others against the amendment. The then higher and technical education minister Uday Samant, who is now the industries minister, had said that the amendment was necessary as many of the appointees were affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Koshyari then approached the union home ministry to seek the opinion of then President Ram Nath Kovind, saying that the amendment was not in conformity with the regulations under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
“Since the powers of the governor being the chancellor of the universities were being proposed to be amended, it was felt by the governor that it would not be just for him to take a decision on the bill,” Santosh Kumar, principal secretary to the governor, said in his letter to the joint secretary, ministry of home affairs (judicial division), on April 21.
On the above grounds, the state cabinet had decided to withdraw the amendment to the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, a release issued by the chief minister’s office said on Tuesday.
“We will now send a request to the governor requesting him to withdraw the bill sent to the President as the state cabinet has withdrawn it. In the coming monsoon session, the state legislature will also be informed about the cabinet’s decision,” Vikas Rastogi, principal secretary, higher and technical education department, said.
The BJP has opposed the bill from the beginning. It had even demanded that it be sent to the joint select committee of the legislature.
Opposition parties have criticised the move.
“Most of the decisions taken by the MVA government in the larger public interest have been reversed by the current dispensation. They are being revoked with a vindictive mindset and with the sole aim to politically outsmart the last government,” Mahesh Tapase, Nationalist Congress Party’s chief spokesperson, said.
The state government also said that it had not stopped the subsidised meal scheme but would look into the complaints of irregularities in some of the distribution centres. “The guardian ministers will also review the allotment of new centres done by the previous government. We have no intention of shutting down the centres,” Shinde said.
The clarification came two days after food and civil supplies minister Ravindra Chavan said that the government was considering a review of the scheme.