In Setback to Kerala Govt, HC Directs Kannur University to Re-examine Appointment of CM Secy’s Wife


The Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed a petition against the proposed appointment of the wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary as a Malayalam associate professor in Kannur University. The court said Dr Priya Varghese does not have the necessary teaching experience, which is one of the main criteria for the post.

The high court directed the varsity to review the rank list, as per which Varghese was appointed in the department of Malayalam. It also asked the university if she was eligible to be included in the list. Justice Devan Ramachandran said the candidate did not have the relevant period of actual teaching experience as stipulated under the University Grants Commission (UGC) Regulations of 2018.

“Teaching experience can only be a real fact and not a fiction or an inference. It has to be actual and cannot be construed or inferred,” the court said and observed that some of the various spells of teaching experience claimed by Dr Varghese “cannot find favour in law”.

Dr Priya Varghese is the wife the chief minister’s private secretary and former MP KK Ragesh. Responding to the court’s order, she said, “I accept the court order. I will discuss with the lawyers.”

The opposition BJP, meanwhile, welcomed the HC’s order with minister of state V Muraleedharan saying Varghese was “underqualified” to be a professor in the first place, and the court order vindicated Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s decision to freeze her appointment. He further said this exposed Vijayan’s bid to promote nepotism in educational institutions of the state.

The former state BJP president tweeted: “Welcome Hon’ble Kerala High Court’s order declaring – Priya Varghese ‘under- qualified’ to be associate professor. Order vindicated Hon’ble @KeralaGovernor’s decision to freeze her appointment Exposed @pinarayivijayan’s attempt to promote nepotism & sabotage Kerala Universities”.

The order came on a plea filed by Joseph Skaria, who came second to Varghese in the university mark list. Varghese had been proposed to be appointed as an associate professor in the Malayalam department by the varsity, which triggered a massive political row as she had the lowest research score but the highest in the interview round and was declared first in the selection process.

Khan, in his capacity as chancellor of universities in the state, had stayed her appointment and alleged that Kannur University’s move to appoint her was “political”.

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