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Governor’s powers to appoint VCs of state universities

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 27, Apr 2022
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Tamil Nadu has passed two Bills proposing to take away the Governor’s powers to appoint VCs of state universities.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bills stress that “every appointment of the Vice-Chancellor shall be made by the Government from out of a panel of three names” recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.
  • Removal: The Bills also seek to empower the state government to have the final word on the removal of VCs, if needed.
  • Procedure: Removal will be carried out based on inquiries by a retired High Court judge or a bureaucrat who has served at least as a Chief Secretary.

Reasons behind the enactment of these legislations:

Chief Minister MK Stalin said the Bills were required as the Governor was disregarding the state government’s opinion on the appointments of VCs.

The elected governments have repeatedly accused the Governors of acting at the behest of the Centre on various subjects, including education. 

Which other states have enacted such similar legislations?

Maharashtra and West Bengal.

  • Kerala and Odisha have also tried to bring appointments to state universities under its control. 

What is the UGC’s role in this?

  • Education comes under the Concurrent List, but entry 66 of the Union List gives the Centre substantial authority over higher education.
  • Here, the University Grants Commission (UGC) plays standard-setting role, even in the case of appointments in universities and colleges.

According to the UGC Regulations, 2018, “Visitor/Chancellor” — mostly the Governor in states — shall appoint the VC out of the panel of names recommended by search-cum-selection committees.

  • Higher educational institutions, particularly those that get UGC funds, are mandated to follow its regulations. 

Observations made by the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court, in March 2022, quashed the appointment of Shirish Kulkarni as the Vice-Chancellor of Sardar Patel University in Gujarat. 


  • Any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto”.
  • Every subordinate legislation of the UGC flows from the parent UGC Act, 1956. Therefore, being a subordinate legislation, UGC Regulations become part of the Act.
  • In case of any conflict between state legislation and central legislation, central legislation shall prevail by applying the rule/principle of repugnancy as enunciated in Article 254 of the Constitution as the subject ‘education’ is in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.