A legal battle is likely in the offing if Governor Arif Mohammed Khan refuses to give assent to the ordinance removing him as Chancellor of State universities.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) is reportedly weighing various worst-case scenarios if Mr. Khan stonewalls the ordinance. The ruling front seemed mindful that Mr. Khan had earlier refused to repromulgate several executive orders, including the University Laws (Amendment) Ordinance and the Lok Ayukta Act (Amendment) Ordinance.
Raj Bhavan felt the repromulgation of the executive orders was tantamount to an appropriation of the legislative authority of the Assembly by the executive and counselled the government to shun the ordinance route and enact laws instead.
Mr. Khan still needed to sign the Bills passed by the Assembly into law. The Governor had not returned the Bills to the government with his reasons for not approving the legislation.
The government had taken strong exception to Raj Bhavan “sitting on the Bills indefinitely” and indicated that the Raj Bhavan’s procrastination would constrain the administration to seek legal recourse.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary M.V. Govindan had indicated that the government would introduce a Bill in the Assembly if Mr. Khan refused to promulgate the ordinance removing the latter as Chancellor.
The LDF was also apprehensive that Raj Bhavan could delay the legislation by referring the ordinance to the President, thereby hobbling the government’s chances to introduce it as a Bill in the Assembly. The government would seek the legal route if such a scenario emerged.
The Governor had earlier stated that he had asked the government to remove him as Chancellor after he objected to a controversial appointment in Kannur University on a nepotism charge.
In Mr. Khan’s words, the government had persuaded him to continue as Chancellor and promised it would not allow any extraneous interference in university matters. However, Mr. Khan alleged the administration had gone back on its word.
The CPI(M) State secretariat convened at the party’s State headquarters at the AKG Centre on Friday. However, it was unclear whether the close-door meeting discussed the government’s fraught relations with Mr. Khan or weighed any legal strategy vis-a-vis the ruling front’s latest confrontation with Raj Bhavan.