Terming as ”irresponsible” and ”ignorant” the statements that he had recommended conferring of Kerala University’s honorary D.Litt on President Ram Nath Kovind, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday said he was seeing a ”disturbing trend” which impinges the national institutions, dignity and prestige”.
”What I have to speak, I have spoken. I am not going to respond to irresponsible statements. I cannot react to ignorant statements. I am not going to respond to statements made out of sheer ignorance,” Khan said to reporters when asked whether he had made any recommendation to confer D.Litt on President Kovind.
The Governor said that as far as making any recommendation was concerned, it was either within the ambit of the university authorities or the Chancellor.
He further said, ”I have already said that I am seeing a disturbing trend which impinges on our national institutions, national dignity and national prestige, apart from other things.” He also added that the President and Governor are considered as national institutions and under Article 51A of the Constitution, national institutions are to be respected.
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”We should not discuss national institutions in a light manner. We should not. It is a question of national prestige and dignity,” Khan also said.
His remarks came in the wake of senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala’s allegations that the Left-front government had rejected the recommendation from the Governor to confer Kerala University’s honorary D.Litt on the President and the subsequent statement by Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan that ”if the Governor had inappropriately recommended anyone’s name for D.Litt, then it’s illegal”.
”If the Governor as the Chancellor had asked the vice chancellor to award D.Litt to anyone, then it’s a misuse of his official position,” Satheesan had said on Saturday.
Kerala CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, on the other hand, had denied the allegation that the party was against the recommendation to give a honorary doctorate to the President.
On being asked whether he will change his decision to step down as Chancellor of universities, Khan said that as per the statutory law, the Governor was given the position to limit interference of the executive in universities.
”However, if those who made the law are breaking the law, then there is no point in my continuing as Chancellor,” he said.
Khan, who is at loggerheads with the state government over alleged political interference in the functioning of the universities, on December 30 had said he was even ready to transfer the powers of chancellor to the Higher Education Minister, who is also the pro-chancellor of the varsities.
The Governor had earlier said he ceased to function as chancellor from December 8 and his office must have forwarded to the state government, a notice served to the chancellor by the Kerala High Court on a plea challenging reappointment of the Kannur University vice-chancellor.
Criticising Khan, the opposition Congress had said that his stand not to continue as the chancellor of universities in the state was ”illegal” and he was not supposed to ”talk like a child.”