Kerala minister gets clean chit in Kannur VC appointment row
The Lokayukta, however, rejected his petition saying the minister in her capacity as the pro-chancellor had only proposed the name of Raveendran and the Governor could have either approved or rejected her request.
The Kerala Lokayukta on Friday gave a clean chit to Higher Education Minister R Bindu in connection with the re-appointment of Kannur University vice-chancellor last month.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had moved the anti-corruption body saying the minister wrote two letters to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan insisting that he re-appoint Gopinath Raveendran as vice-chancellor and in the process she misused her power and it was a clear case of nepotism and violation of oath of office.
The Lokayukta, however, rejected his petition saying the minister in her capacity as the pro-chancellor had only proposed the name of Raveendran and the Governor could have either approved or rejected her request. Lokayukta chief Justice Cyriac Joseph said it can’t be construed as misuse of power and there was nothing wrong on her part in proposing a name.
Justice Cyriac Joseph even questioned the relevance of a probe into the matter when neither the pro-vice chancellor nor the chancellor (Governor) came under the purview of the Lokayukta and both admitted to the exchange of the letter between them. The minister has welcomed the verdict but Chennithala said he will consider an appeal after going through the verdict.
“I welcome the verdict. It seems Chennithala is in distress after he lost the opposition leader’s post and sniffs corruption everywhere. A section of the media also came out with many stories and theories,” the minister said. But she refused to say anything about the Governor’s role in the controversy.
“I stick to my position that it was a clear case of misuse of power and position. I will go for an appeal after going through the verdict,” said Chennithala adding his re-appointment was a favour in return for appointing the wife of the CM’s political secretary K K Ragesh as an associate professor in Kannur University.
Interestingly, the re-appointment of Raveendran was a bone of contention between the Governor and the government. He was re-appointed for a period of four years in last November after the government issued a notification and appointed a selection committee to select the new V-C. But later the government insisted on his re-appointment and R Bindu wrote two letters to the Governor in the matter. Later Khan expressed his anger in public saying he was forced to sign the appointment letter.
The relation between both hit a rough patch after the latter sent a strongly-worded letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan on December 8 in which he said he was really pained over the “dipping standard” of the higher education sector and blamed “brazen political interference” for this. Though he refused to take up the chancellor’s post later the CM placated him.