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KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed the vice-chancellors of eight universities time until November 7th to respond to the show cause notices issued to them by the Chancellor or to seek personal appearances. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan is the Chancellor of the universities in Kerala.

Extending the deadline of November 3rd for responding to the show cause notices, justice Devan Ramachandran said such a directive is being issued as the court is unable to proceed to a final hearing on the petitions as the counsel for the Chancellor has sought time to file counter affidavits. The court was considering the petitions (WP-C No. 34848/22) filed by the vice-chancellors during an admission hearing.

Counsels representing the VCs sought an interim order during the admission hearing. The court pointed out that, prima facie, it cannot issue an interim order against a show cause notice unless it is issued without authority. However, the court can extend the deadline to respond to the show cause notices or seek personal hearings if the counsels wish so, the judge said.

The court also said it may have to ultimately consider the question of whether a person who assumed office due to an error or mistake can be allowed to continue in office merely because nobody chose to challenge it before a court. “In a democracy of ours, governed by a Constitution, that proposition, ipso facto, is dangerous,” the court said.

The court also added, “We’re in a situation where the post of a vice-chancellor has become so degraded. This is a post that should be treated with the highest level of dignity.” Reiterating that the court is not concerned about the persons but about the institutions, the judge asked who will study in the state if these kinds of controversies remain. “It has to be settled once and for all, quickly,” the judge stated.

Further, the court asked the counsels why a presumption is being created that the Chancellor will only act in a particular manner and said the court can handle all scenarios.

The vice-chancellors who approached the court to belong to the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Cochin University of Science and Technology, University of Kerala, Calicut University, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kannur University, Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, and MG University. The court will consider the case again on November 7th.

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