KAT sets aside appointment of 12 college principals, calls for selection panel as per UGC norms

The Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT) has set aside the appointment of 12 principals of government arts and science colleges after finding that the process was undertaken in violation of University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations.

The tribunal’s judgment could have a bearing on several appointments made in the recent past. It could also have an impact on the long-drawn selection process of Principals of 50-odd colleges where the posts have been lying vacant for several years.

‘Lacking qualifications’

KAT judicial member P.V. Asha passed the order on Friday after considering a petition submitted by S. Babu, former Associate Professor in University College, Thiruvananthapuram. He contended that the government had appointed the 12 respondents as Principals through orders issued in 2017 and 2018, though they lacked the qualifications prescribed by the UGC. Moreover, he was ignored for the process despite possessing the requisite qualification.

Four in service

While most of the respondents have retired from service, four — K.K. Damodaran, V. Anil, Sunil John J., and V.K. Anuradha — are currently Principals of Government College, Malappuram; Government Victoria College, Palakkad; Sree Neelakanta Government Sanskrit College, Pattambi; and Government College, Chittur, respectively.

Mr. Babu, who was represented by advocate Fathahudeen M., also relied on the Supreme Court judgment that cancelled the appointment of M.S. Rajasree as Vice Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University to argue that the government had not constituted a selection committee as mandated by the UGC for the purpose.

The tribunal, which accepted the contentions, observed that the respondents did not possess sufficient qualifications as mandated by the UGC in its regulations of 2010 on the appointment norms of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges. It also highlighted the violation of the Kerala State and Subordinate Service Rules (KS&SSR) that would have guaranteed preference for the applicant in the selection process.

Order cancelled

In light of the findings, the KAT directed the government and the Director of Collegiate Education to constitute a selection committee in accordance with the UGC norms and to consider Mr. Babu for appointment as Principal with effect from December 23, 2017, the date of the issuance of the order that has now been cancelled. He should be considered for appointment within two months and he will be entitled to all consequential benefits, subject to the outcome of the selection process.

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