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Upholding University Autonomy: Chancellor’s Discretion in Appointing Vice-Chancellors

Last Updated on December 2, 2023 by News Desk


The recent Supreme Court ruling on the re-appointment of Dr. Gopinath Ravindran as the Vice Chancellor of Kannur University in Kerala brought to light crucial aspects of the Chancellor’s role in state universities. The judgment highlighted the separation of powers between the Chancellor and the State Government, emphasizing the former’s independent authority in university-related decisions.


The court underscored the autonomy granted to Kannur University by the Kannur University Act 1996 and UGC statutes, explicitly stating that the Chancellor, acting as the head of the university, operated independently. It pointed out the distinct authorities of the Chancellor and the State Government, asserting that the Chancellor’s discretionary powers in appointing or reappointing the Vice-Chancellor were exercised solely in the interest of the university.


The verdict emphasized that the Chancellor’s role transcended mere titular duties, holding the Chancellor as the sole judge in Vice-Chancellor selection matters. It reiterated that external interference in the Chancellor’s statutory discretion was impermissible, condemning any influence from political entities as inconsistent with legal principles. The court firmly stated that the Chancellor’s actions should be guided by personal judgment, unaffected by external dictates, ensuring the integrity of the appointment process.


The judgment reinforced the Chancellor’s pivotal role in university affairs, distinguishing it from the obligations of the Governor’s office. It upheld the Chancellor’s autonomy, highlighting the Chancellor’s duty to act in the best interest of the university. The ruling firmly established that the Chancellor’s decisions regarding Vice-Chancellor appointments were to be made independently, free from external pressures, thereby safeguarding the university’s autonomy and integrity.

Written by : Athi Venkatesh AVD

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