- Mention the development in states.
- Delineate the role of Chancellor in public universities.
- Mention if he has discretion ?
As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all the students. Recently, there has been an increasing tiff b/w the Governor & the state governments , inter-alia, w.r.t. the state public universities. In this context, examining the role of Governor in state public universities become pertinent.
Recent Developments : (a) Tamil Nadu had passed bills to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor from Governor to the State government; (b) Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice-Chancellor, mandating a Search Committee to first forward the panel names to the State government, which will then recommend a panel of two names to the Governor for final selection; (c) West Bengal has passed a bill to replace the Governor with the CM as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities.
Role of Chancellor in Public Universities : Through laws of the state legislature, the Governor is designated as the Chancellor of these public universities. The Chancellor functions as the head, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid any university proceeding which is not per with existing laws. He also presides over the university convocations, conferring honorary degrees. He also presides over the meetings of various university bodies.
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor ? :
- In 1997, the SC held that although the Governor is bound by the advice of the state CoM, he not bound by such advice in discharging duty of statutory office (like Chancellor).
- The Sarkaria & Puunchi Commission concurred that in discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid & advice of CoM.
- The Sarkaria commission recommended state legislatures to avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which are not envisaged in the Constitution.
- The Puunchi commission observed that the role of Governor as Chancellor may expose the office to controversies and public criticisms. Hence, the role of Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions
Governor is the edifice of a strong Centre-State relation. Frequent problems with the office of the Governor can weaken the spirit of cooperative federalism. In this regard, it holds better to make the office of the Governor function only on the constitutionally mandated functions, for which he is aided and advised by the state CoM.