Varsities’ bills to give govt too much power: Governor

Varsities’ bills to give govt too much power: Governor

Vajubhai Vala

In a virtual turf war with the government, Governor Vajubhai R Vala has refused to clear two key bills — one to overhaul public universities and another to establish a premier economics university — on the grounds that the government had given itself too much power.

The Governor, who is also the Chancellor of universities, is said to have taken exception to the government having clipped his powers in the appointment of vice-chancellors. He also wants the government to review the representation it has given itself in various aspects of the functioning of universities.

The Karnataka State Universities (KSU) Bill, 2017 and the Bengaluru Dr B R Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE) University Bill, 2018, were passed in the February 2018 session of the legislature when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government was in power.

Appointment of vice-chancellors has led to a tussle between Raj Bhavan and the government in the past, and Vala does not particularly favour the process that the Bills have prescribed.

It is now proposed that a search committee will shortlist three names for the post from which the government will pick one for the Governor’s approval. Earlier, the Governor could pick one from all the three names. Also, the bills say if the Governor is unhappy with the government’s recommendation, he will be given another name that he will have to approve within 30 days.

The search panel now has five members — it had four earlier — with the government having two nominees to have a greater say in the process.

The government has argued that the proposed process will cut delays in appointing V-Cs, which has taken up to one year in the past due to disagreement with Raj Bhavan. Not just that, the Governor is said to be irked with the government’s move to increase its representation in the Executive Council (Syndicate, as it is now known). The bills allow the government to appoint four persons to this body against two for the Chancellor, while also giving legislators a place inside. The previous government was bullish on the passage of the KSU Bill hailing it as a solution to end corruption in universities due to interventions prescribed to check spending among other revamp measures.

Similarly, BASE was the Congress’ flagship project. The school promised to be on par with the London School of Economics, was launched by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2017 and has 50 students in the first batch. The BASE Bill will turn it into a university that can award its own degrees and get funding.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge, who is working to take BASE on its intended path, met Vala recently. “The Governor has some reservations. He has suggested some corrections in the Bill, which we’re working on,” he said.

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