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KUFOS: Supreme Court refuses to stay Kerala High Court verdict on appointment of Dr. K Riji John as Vice Chancellor

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The Apex Court has given a no for the stay in a Kerala High Court verdict which sets aside Dr. K Riji John’s appointment as Vice Chancellor of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS).

The plea was filed through advocate Anne Matthew on behalf of John who challenges the High Court order of  holding that his selection was contrary to the University Grants Commission Regulations, 2018 and that the search-cum-selection committee was also violative of the guidelines.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli issued have refused to stay the High Court’s decision,however they have issued notice.

As per the order notice was issued. the Court has asked for the Counter affidavit to be filed within a period of three weeks. 

The court has also asked that to list the Special Leave Petitions on December 13, 2022 for action.

The court has however made this clear that in the meantime, everyone will abide by the result of these proceedings.

As per the petitioner, UGC regulations specifically exclude Agricultural Universities and the High Court failed to take this into account.

He also added how the ‘agricultural education and research’ falls under the State List which is the exclusive domain of the State, it was contended.

The petitioner contended that the Kerala University Fisheries and Ocean Studies Act was applicable with regard to the procedure for selection an appointment of a Vice Chancellor.

The petition said that the University Grants Commission has consciously excluded the Agricultural education from the purview of the UGC regulations in view of the fact that agriculture and agricultural education are exclusively within the domain of the State legislature.

Citing this,the petitioner said that, there was no need to follow the selection procedure as per UGC regulations for the appointment of a Vice Chancellor to an agricultural University.

 The petitioner also highlights  the High Court’s error in proceeding on the premise that the selection of the Vice Chancellor of KUFOS would come within the concurrent list which deals with education and universities.

It was also submitted that when a specific entry deals with agricultural education, Entry 25 in the concurrent list ought not to have been referred to by the High Court,” it was submitted.

It was also argued that the appointment was in conformity with the procedure prescribed under the Act and could not be invalidated for not conforming to the UGC regulations.

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