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Dr. B. Ashok Ias, Vive Chancellor Wayanad Dist. Vs. Chancellor, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Thiruvananthapuram and Others - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. (C) No. 28284 of 2011
Judge
AppellantDr. B. Ashok Ias, Vive Chancellor Wayanad Dist.
RespondentChancellor, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Thiruvananthapuram and Others
Excerpt:
constitution of india - articles 310 and 311 - kerala veterinary and animal sciences university act, 2010 - section 12(7) - government decided to recall the petitioner from the post of the vice-chancellor of the university with the permission of the governor of kerala and placed at the disposal of the animal husbandry department the service of the fifth respondent - power on the chancellor to remove a person for misconduct, etc. will act as restriction clause on the pleasure doctrine - petitioner was reverted to kerala cadre and was thereafter appointed as vice-chancellor - the post of vice-chancellor is a civil post under the state government, therefore, the procedure for removal of civil servants, that is known to law, cannot have any relevance at all here - section 12(8) only enables.....1. the controversy herein is whether the notification issued by the chancellor, by which, the term of the first vice-chancellor of the kerala veterinary and animal sciences university was curtailed by invoking section 12(7) of the act, is justifiable. the plea raised by the petitioner mainly is that he is entitled to continue for a period of five years. it is submitted that the pleasure doctrine under section 12(7) of the act is subject to restrictions contained in sub-section (8) of the act, and not absolute. 2. the necessary facts leading to the filing of the writ petition are the following: the petitioner is an officer of the indian administrative service. the kerala veterinary and animal sciences university act, 2010 (for short 'the act') came into force on 14.06.2010. the petitioner.....
Judgment:

1. The controversy herein is whether the notification issued by the Chancellor, by which, the term of the first Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University was curtailed by invoking Section 12(7) of the Act, is justifiable. The plea raised by the petitioner mainly is that he is entitled to continue for a period of five years. It is submitted that the pleasure doctrine under Section 12(7) of the Act is subject to restrictions contained in sub-section (8) of the Act, and not absolute.

2. The necessary facts leading to the filing of the writ petition are the following: The petitioner is an officer of the Indian Administrative Service. The Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Act, 2010 (for short 'the Act') came into force on 14.06.2010. The petitioner who was on deputation to the Government of India, was considered for appointment as the first Vice-Chancellor of the University. The order leading to his repatriation and the notification concerning his appointment have been produced as Exts. P1 and P2. The petitioner has been continuing as such after assumption of office on 03.01.2011. According to the petitioner, he was performing his duties to the satisfaction of everybody and he was appointed as Vice-Chancellor after the Government was fully satisfied about his qualifications and the suitability to hold the post.

3. Ext.P3 is the order by which the Government decided to recall the petitioner from the post of the Vice-Chancellor of the University with the permission of the Governor of Kerala and consequently, the Government placed at the disposal of the Animal Husbandry Department the service of the fifth respondent who is the Additional Chief Secretary and the Agricultural Production Commissioner, for holding the charge of the Vice-Chancellor of the University. Ext.P4 is the notification issued by the Chancellor of the University, whereby in supersession of Ext.P2 notification by which the petitioner was appointed as First Vice-Chancellor, the fifth respondent has been authorised to exercise the powers of the Vice-Chancellor of the University till a new Vice-Chancellor is appointed under the provisions of the Act.

4. The petitioner has raised the following grounds to challenge the order/notification: (a) That he is entitled to continue as Vice-Chancellor of the University till 02.01.2016, as the tenure of his appointment is for a period of five years and can be removed only under Section 12(8) of the Act; (b) There are no administrative reasons warranting his recalling; (c) The whole functioning of the University will be affected by the process now initiated; and (d) The order/notification are issued due to extraneous and irrelevant reasons and are vitiated by mala fides.

5. In that context, the petitioner also alleges that he had occasion to publish an article in one of the leading Malayalam Dailies on 10.10.2011, produced as Ext.P6 which has provoked the Chief Secretary and the 5th respondent, the Additional Chief Secretary and they had caused the issuance of Ext.P3.

6. Since the main argument rests on the fixed tenure of the appointment of the petitioner and his right to hold office for a period of five years, it is profitable to consider the statutory provisions in this regard. Section 12 provides for appointment of the Vice-Chancellor. Section 12 along with the sub-sections are reproduced below:

"12. The Vice-Chancellor. - (1) The Vice-Chancellor shall be responsible for the duties allotted to him specifically by the Chancellor with the approval of the Board of Management or under this Act or Statutes and he shall preside over the meetings of the authorities of the University in the absence of the Chancellor.(2) The Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Chancellor from among the panel of names recommended by the Search Committee consisting of the following members, namely -(i) One member nominated by the chancellor;(ii) One member nominated by the Government;(iii) Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research or his nominee;(iv) President, Veterinary Council of India.The Chancellor shall appoint one of the members of the Committee to be the Chairman.(3) If the Chancellor does not approve any of the persons so recommended by the committee, he may call for fresh recommendation from the committee.(4) The committee shall submit a panel to the Chancellor, within such period as he may specify. The Chancellor shall with the concurrence of the Government, appoint one person as the Vice-Chancellor. If the Committee fails to submit a panel within the period so specified, the Chancellor may appoint any person who he deems fit to be the Vice-Chancellor on the advice of the Government.(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4) the first Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Government.(6) No person shall be appointed as, or hold office of, the Vice-Chancellor if he has attained the age of seventy years.(7) The Vice-Chancellor shall, subject to the pleasure of the Chancellor and the provisions of sub-section (6), hold the office for a period of five years. The Vice-Chancellor shall be eligible for a second term. However, the Vice-Chancellor may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Chancellor, and after giving three months notice, resign his office.(8) (i) The Chancellor shall have the power to remove the Vice-Chancellor from office by an order in writing on charges of misappropriation, misconduct, mismanagement of funds or wilful omission, refusal to carry out the provisions of this Act or for abuse of powers vested on him:Provided that before taking an action under this sub-section such charges shall be proved by an enquiry conducted by the Chancellor as provided in clause (ii).(ii) For the purpose of holding an inquiry under this section the Chancellor shall appoint a person who is or has been a Judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court. The inquiry authority shall hold an inquiry after giving an opportunity to make representation by the Vice-Chancellor and shall submit a report to the Chancellor.(9) The emoluments and other conditions of service of the Vice-Chancellor shall be such as may be prescribed by Statutes.(10) When any temporary vacancy occurs in the office of Vice-Chancellor or if the Vice-Chancellor is, by reason of illness absence or for any other reason, unable to exercise the powers and perform the duties of his office, the Chancellor shall make necessary arrangements for exercising the powers of the Vice-Chancellor."

7. The crucial provision coming up for interpretation herein is sub-section (7) wherein, it is provided that "the Vice-Chancellor shall, subject to the pleasure of the Chancellor and the provisions of sub-section (6), hold the office for a period of five years." Sub-section (6) provides for an upper age limit of 70 years. Sub-section (8) is heavily relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner to contend for the position that the only method for removal of the Vice-Chancellor is by recourse to the said provision, whereby the Chancellor is conferred with power to remove the Vice-Chancellor on charges of misappropriation, misconduct, mismanagement of funds or wilful omission, refusal to carry out the provisions of the Act or for abuse of powers. Such removal is pre-conditioned by holding of an enquiry, as provided under the proviso to sub-sections (i) and (ii), whereby the Chancellor will have to appoint a person who has been a Judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court to hold it. The enquiry will have to be conducted after giving an opportunity to the Vice-Chancellor to make a representation.

8. Heard learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner Shri. Ranjith Thampan, Shri. C. S. Manilal, Senior Govt. Pleader, Shri. K. Ramakumar, learned Senior Counsel for the additional 6th respondent and Shri. Millu Dandapani, learned counsel for the University.

9. It is mainly argued by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that the term of the Vice-Chancellor is fixed as five years under sub-section (7) of Section 12 and therefore the curtailing of the term as now attempted, cannot be sustained. It is further pointed out that sub-section (8) of Section 12 is quite important and in the absence of steps for any removal of the Vice-Chancellor by invoking the power under sub-section (8) also, the term cannot be terminated as now attempted. It is pointed out that sub-section (8) will act as a restriction as far as the power under sub-section (7) is concerned and various decisions have been relied upon in this context.

10. Before going into the respective contentions of the parties, I will consider the statutory scheme itself. Sub-section (5) of Section 12 provides for appointment of the first Vice-Chancellor by the Chancellor on the "recommendation of the Government." The normal method of appointment of a Vice-Chancellor is provided in sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) of Section 12. A person cannot continue beyond the age of 70 years. Sub-section (10) provides for filling up of temporary vacancies in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, and various contingencies are provided therein.

11. A comparison of the provisions of the Act with the Rules and the provisions under the allied University Acts will also be profitable. The provisions regarding appointment of Vice-Chancellor are specifically provided under various enactments, viz. Kerala Agricultural University Act, 1971, Calicut University Act, 1975, Cochin University of Science and Technology Act, 1986, Kannur University Act, 1996, Kerala University Act, 1974, Mahatma Gandhi University Act, 1985, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit Act, 1994, Kerala University of Health Sciences Act, 2010 and National University of Advanced Legal Studies Act, 2005. The respective provisions of those Acts concerning the term of the Vice-Chancellor are re-produced below:

"The Kerala Agricultural University Act, 1971 - Sections 27(5) and 27(6) 

27(5): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2), the first Vice-Chancellor after the commencement of this Act shall be appointed by the Chancellor for a period not exceeding five years on such terms and conditions as the Chancellor may determine.27(6):The Vice-Chancellor shall normally hold office for a term of five years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one additional term of five years.Provided that a Vice-Chancellor appointed under this Section shall cease to hold officer on his completing the age of Sixty five years.

Provided further that a person appointed as Vice-Chancellor before the commencement of the Kerala Agricultural University (Amendment Act), 1997, and holding office as such at the commencement of the said Act shall cease to hold office.(a) on his completing the age of sixty five years; or(b) on the date of commencement of the said Act, if he has already completed sixty five years of age at such commencement."The Calicut University Act, 1971 - Section 10(6) 

10(6). The Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for reappointment:Provided that a person shall not be appointed as Vice-Chancellor for more than two terms.The Cochin University of Science and Technology Act, 1986 -Section 11(5) 

11(5). The Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.The Kannur University Act, 1996 - Section 10(10) 

10(10). The Vice-Chancellor shall, hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for re-appointment:Provided that a person shall not be appointed as Vice-Chancellor for more than two terms.The Kerala University Act, 1974 - Section 10(6) 

10(6). The Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for reappointment:Provided that a person shall not be appointed as Vice-Chancellor for more than two terms.The Mahatma Gandhi University Act, 1985 - Section 10(10) 

10(10). The Vice-Chancellor shall subject to sub-section (9), hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for re-appointment:Provided that a person shall not be appointed as Vice-Chancellor for more than two terms.The Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, 1994 - Sections 24(4) and 24(5)(a) and (b) 

24(4). The Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he terns upon office.(5)(a) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (1) to (4), the chancellor may, on the advice of the Government, appoint a suitable person who has not completed sixty-two years of age as the first Vice-Chancellor on a part-time or whole-time basis for a period not exceeding thirty months.(b) The first Vice-Chancellor shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of all the authorities of the University also until they are duly constituted within two years from the date of his appointment.The Kerala University of Health Sciences Act, 2010 - Section 10(5)(i) 

10(5)(i). The person appointed as the Vice-Chancellor shall, subject to the terms and conditions of his contract of service hold office for a contract period of five years from the date on which he enters upon office or till he attains the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.NationalUniversityof Advanced Legal Studies Act, 2005 -Sections 27(5) and (6) 

27(5). Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or the regulations, the first Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Government on such terms and conditions as may be specified by order.(6) The term of office of the Vice-Chancellor shall be four years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of 65 whichever is earlier."

A comparison of the above provisions will show that unlike the provisions under the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Act, 2010, the provisions of the other University Acts mentioned above do not contain the pleasure, doctrine. Of course, the fixed term of the Vice-Chancellor is specifically provided in those enactments. Provisions for removal on certain grounds are also there.

12. The scope and content of the pleasure doctrine in a case like the one herein, will have to be understood in the light of the scheme under the Constitution of India as well as in the light of the principles stated by the Apex Court in various decisions. Both sides relied upon a recent decision of the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal v. Union of India and Another {(2010) 6 SCC 331}. Therein, the question was considered in the light of the argument that the removal of the Governor can only be on valid grounds and that the power is restricted. In para 83 of the judgment, the Apex Court summarised the conclusions as under:

"83. We summarise our conclusions as under. - (i) Under Article 156(1), the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President. Therefore, the President can remove the Governor from office at any time without assigning any reason and without giving any opportunity to show cause.(ii) Though no reason need be assigned for discontinuance of the pleasure resulting in removal, the power under Article 156(1) cannot be exercised in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner. The power will have to be exercised in rare and exceptional circumstance for valid and compelling reasons. The compelling reasons are not restricted to those enumerated by the petitioner (that is physical/mental disability corruption and behaviour unbecoming of a Governor) but are of a wider amplitude. What would be compelling reasons would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.(iii) A Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union Government has lost confidence in him. It follows therefore that change in government at the Centre is not a ground for removal of Governors holding office to make way for others favoured by the new Government.(iv) As there is no need to assign reasons, any removal as a consequence of withdrawal of the pleasure will be assumed to be valid and will be open to only a limited judicial review. If the aggrieved person is able to demonstrate prima facie that his removal was either arbitrary, mala fide, capricious or whimsical, the Court will call upon the Union Government to disclose to the Court, the material upon which the President had taken the decision to withdraw the pleasure. If the Union Government does not disclose any reason, or if the reasons disclosed are found to be irrelevant, arbitrary, whimsical, or mala fide, the Court will interfere. However, the Court will not interfere merely on the ground that a different view is possible or that the material or reasons are insufficient."

13. I shall now refer to the contentions raised by the respective parties in detail. Firstly, I shall deal with the contentions raised by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner. The petitioner's contention, as noticed already, mainly is that the tenure of five years provided under sub-section (7) of Section 12 cannot be curtailed. The removal can only be as provided under sub-section (8) after conducting enquiry which requires giving an opportunity. It is pointed out that the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor who is appointed under Section 12, could be terminated only by three means: (i) by resignation; (ii) by completion of tenure; and (iii) by removal on the ground of misconduct or similar grounds raised in sub-section (8). In this context, learned Senior Counsel relied upon the decision of a Full Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in Dr. Bhagat Singh v. The Chancellor, Punjabi University and Others (1981 (2) SLR PandH 329) and that of the Allahabad High Court in HariOm Tripathi v. Nideshak, Rajya Nagar Vikas (1999 (3) AWC 2414). Therefore, the learned Senior Counsel points out that the pleasure doctrine will not apply at all.

14. It is submitted that the petitioner was under central deputation upto the year 2013 and since he has been recalled, there is a cooling off period of three years at the State cadre, which will be over only in 2016. The posting given on central deputation was much favourable to him both by way of emoluments as well as by way of status. Such a status was available in the post of Vice-Chancellor also. Therefore, the attempt made by the Government to recall his service as Vice-Chancellor goes beyond the power conferred under Section 12 of the Act. It is also submitted that Ext.P7 is the Performance Appraisal Report for the period from 03.01.2011 to 31.08.2011 made by the Chancellor, which will show that he had a meritorious tenure in the University and there was no adverse comment against him. It is therefore submitted that there is no real and justifiable reason to replace him. The petitioner has produced Ext.P12 containing the deliberations of the Cabinet and it is pointed out that the Cabinet did not consider the impact of Ext.P2 proceedings appointing the petitioner as Vice-Chancellor for a period of five years. Lastly, it is submitted by relying upon Ext.P13 newspaper report that the publication of an article by the petitioner has irritated the Chief Secretary and others which is the real reason for recalling him and therefore extraneous considerations have played a major part. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner further submitted that if the doctrine of pleasure is upheld, then that will defeat the autonomy of the University.

15. Shri. K. Ramakumar, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the additional 6th respondent submitted that the above contentions cannot be accepted at all in the light of the engrafting of the pleasure doctrine in sub-section (7) which acts absolutely and without any restriction. It is submitted that when the doctrine of pleasure applies, it is not obligatory to show any reason. No notice be issued as the incumbent is already told that the tenure is under pleasure. Principles of natural justice are not attracted. My attention was invited to the pleadings in the writ petition to show that the petitioner has not raised any allegations of mala fides against the Governor who is the Chancellor as well as against the Government. Learned Senior Counsel relied upon the principles stated by the Apex Court in OM Narain Agarwal and Others v. Nagar Palika Shahjahanpur and Others {(1993) 2 SCC 242} and Krishna v. State of Maharashtra and Others {(2001) 2 SCC 441}. It is therefore submitted that as the pleadings are not there to allege any arbitrariness or mala fides, it is only a simple case of application of the pleasure doctrine. If that be so, going by the principles stated in the above decisions and also the decision in B. P. Singhal's case {(2010) 6 331} it can be seen that reasons need not be there for an action like this and the Chancellor was well within his rights to act.

16. It is further submitted by the learned Senior Counsel for the additional 6th respondent that the pleasure doctrine incorporated in sub-section (7) is not at all a restricted one. What is provided under sub-section (8) is only a power on the Chancellor to remove a Vice-Chancellor for misconduct, misappropriation of funds, mismanagement, etc. when the removal is sought on the said grounds and such an action concludes with a stigma. Thus, it is pointed out that the argument of the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that the doctrine of pleasure is totally restricted by sub-section (8) cannot be countenanced at all. The conferment of the discretionary power to remove the Vice-Chancellor cannot be understood as a restriction on the exercise of the pleasure doctrine. Herein, the order is not one in the nature of casting a stigma against the petitioner.

17. Learned Senior Government Pleader Shri. C. S. Manilal submitted that an analysis of Section 12 will show that the role of the Government is clearly delineated therein. Sub-section (2) will show that a Vice-Chancellor can be appointed from among the panel of names recommended by the Search Committee and sub-section (4) will show that after the submission of panel by the Search Committee, the Chancellor will have to appoint one person as Vice-Chancellor with the "concurrence" of the Government. It is also pointed out that the latter part of sub-section (4) will show that if any failure is there on the part of the Committee to submit a panel within the period prescribed, the Chancellor will have to appoint a person on the "advice" of the Government. Sub-section (5) will show that the appointment of the first Vice-Chancellor is also "on the recommendation of the Government." It is therefore submitted that it is not as if as contended by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that the Government has no role in the appointment of the Vice-Chancellors and once a person is appointed as the Vice-Chancellor "on the recommendation of the Government", when the Government seeks a change of the person concerned for administrative reasons, nothing prevents the Chancellor from acting on it. It is pointed out that sub-section (5) starts with a non obstante clause which is important.

18. As regards the applicability of the doctrine of pleasure, it is submitted that the said doctrine will act absolutely as sub-section (7) provides for the tenure of the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor whose appointment is preceded by a process initiated under sub-sections (4) and (5) alike. It is therefore pointed out that when the tenure is subject to the pleasure of the Chancellor, the incumbent is already told about the same. The power of removal under sub-section (8) will not therefore act as a restriction on the pleasure doctrine incorporated in sub-section (7). The Chancellor's power to remove a person under sub-section (8) may apply in different circumstances wherein the Vice-Chancellor can be proceeded against on specific charges of misconduct, misappropriation of funds, mismanagement, etc. and such a power will not denude the applicability of pleasure doctrine under sub-section (7). It is pointed out that the post of Vice-Chancellor is not a civil post and the Governor has to act on the advice of the Government. My attention was invited to the dictum laid down in the decisions of the Apex Court in SatyavirSingh and Others v. Union of India and Others {(1985) 4 SCC 252} and B. P. Singhal's case {(2010) 6 SCC 331}. Learned Senior Government Pleader further emphasised the fact that the petitioner has not alleged any mala fides against the Governor and the Government also. It is pointed out that there is no particular form for withdrawal of the pleasure.

19. The scope and extent of the doctrine of pleasure under the Act and whether the same is restricted in the light of the tenure fixed as five years and in the light of sub-section (8) of Section 12.

The relevant principles have been discussed elaborately by a Constitution Bench of the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case {(2010) 6 SCC 331}. Therein, the matter was considered as regards the provisions under Article 156 of the Constitution of India providing for the term of office of the Governor. The said Article is reproduced below:

"156. Term of office of Governor - (1) The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.(2) The Governor may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.(3) Subject to the foregoing provisions of this article, a Governor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. Provided that a Governor shall, notwithstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office."

The third close therein provides for a term of five years from the date of assumption of charge which will be subject to the relevant provisions of the Article. The effect of the said clause was considered from paragraphs 49 onwards and the argument was that the doctrine of pleasure under Article 156(1) of the Constitution is restricted in the light of sub-article (3). Paragraphs 51 to 53 of the judgment delineates the relevant principles and the contention that sub-article (3) amounts to an express restriction and limitation as far as clause (1) of Article 156 is concerned, was rejected. The said paragraphs reads as follows:

"51. A plain reading of Article 156 shows that when a Governor is appointed, he holds the office during the pleasure of the President, which means that the Governor can be removed from office at any time without notice and without assigning any cause. It is also open to the Governor to resign from office at any time. If the President does not remove him from office and if the Governor does not resign, the term of the Governor will come to an end on the expiry of five years from the date on which he enters office. Clause (3) is not intended to be a restriction or limitation upon the power to remove the Governor at any time under clause (1) of Article 156. Clause (3) of Article 156 only indicates the tenure which is subjected to the President's pleasure. In contrast, we can refer to Articles 310 and 311 where the doctrine of pleasure is clearly and indisputably subjected to restriction.52. Clause (1) of Article 310 provides that a person serving the Union Government holds office during the pleasure of the President and a person serving a State Government holds office during the pleasure of the Governor. The "doctrine of pleasure" is subjected to a restriction in Article 310(2) and the restrictions in Articles 311(1) and (2). The most significant restriction is contained in clause (2) of Article 311 which provides that no such employee shall be dismissed or removed from service except after a inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges levelled against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.53. Clause (1) of Article 310 begins with the words "Except as expressly provided by the Constitution." Therefore, Article 310 itself makes it clear that though a person serves the Union or a State during the pleasure of the President/Governor, the power of removal at pleasure is subject to the other express provisions of the Constitution; and Article 311 contains such express provision which places limitations upon the power of removal at pleasure. By contrast, clause (1) of Article 156 is not made subject to any other provision of the Constitution nor subjected to any exception. Clause (3) prescribing a tenure of five years for the office of a Governor, is made subject to clause (1) which provides that the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President. Therefore, it is not possible to accept the contention that clause (1) of Article 156 is subjected to an express restriction or limitation under Clause (3) of Article 156."

20. Sub-section (7) of Section 12 of the Act herein provides for a tenure of five years, which is conditioned by the words "subject to the pleasure of the Chancellor". As far as the said provision is concerned, it can be seen that the pleasure doctrine is engrafted to apply in full measure and evidently in the light of the principle that the doctrine of pleasure will apply to the tenure of an office, and when the tenure itself is fixed as subject to the pleasure, there cannot be any dispute that the tenure provided as five years, will not act as a restriction. The power, therefore, could be exercised at any time.

21. The next question is whether sub-section (8) which confers power on the Chancellor to remove a person for misconduct, etc. will act as restriction clause on the pleasure doctrine. The opening words of subsection (8) are the following: "The Chancellor shall have the power to remove the Vice-Chancellor ........" The procedure is also prescribed therein. The provisions only confer a power and imply a discretion to invoke it. The section obviously does not contain any similar words like those contained in Articles 310 and 311 of the Constitution of India. Article 310 of the Constitution, as already noticed in para 53 of the decision of the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case {(2010) 6 SCC 331}, begins with the words "except as expressly provided by this Constitution" and Article 311(2) which provides for dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed, in civil capacities, under the Union or a State, clearly provides that "no such person as aforesaid, shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an enquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges." Explicitly such terms will provide immunity from removal except as per the procedure prescribed therein. Thus, in respect of Government employees, the doctrine is curtailed severely. Can we say that sub-section (8) gives an immunity from removal of Vice-Chancellor except as otherwise provided therein? Definitely, not. Evidently, the words "shall have the power to remove the Vice-Chancellor" could be understood only as conferring a power to the Chancellor to take action for removal in cases where any proposal is made for removal on the specific grounds provided therein. It is only a provision conferring power or authority to act in such cases also. It will not indicate that sub-section (8) alone provides the method for removal and such words to indicate so are absent in sub-section (8). If it is held otherwise, that sub-section (8) alone can have any application for removal, that will be adding words to the provisions of the Statute and therefore such method of interpretation cannot also be adopted.

22. I am fortified in this view by the judgment of the Apex Court in Krishna's case {2001 (2) SCC 441} which is heavily relied upon by Shri. K. Ramakumar, learned Senior Counsel for the additional 6th respondent to bolster up his contentions. Therein, similar provisions were considered by the Apex Court. The provisions considered were Sections 6 and 10 of Nagpur Improvement Trust Act, 1936. Section 6 therein reads as follows:

"6. The term of office of Chairman or of any trustee appointed under clause (e) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 shall be five years, provided that the Chairman or any trustee may be removed from office by the State Government at any time before the completion of such term."

Section 10 of the said Act provided that the State Government may remove from the trust any trustee other than an ex officio trustee for various reasons provided in sub-sections (a) to (g). Sub-section (2) of Section 10 provides that the "State Government may remove from the trust a trustee who in its opinion has so flagrantly abused in any manner his position as a trustee as to render his continuance as a trustee detrimental to the public interest." Sub-section (3) of Section 10 provides for an opportunity to give explanation to the trustee concerned. Thus, an argument was raised that Section 6 provides for a tenure for five years and the removal can only be by recourse to Section 10. The respondents argued that Section 6 engrafts the pleasure doctrine and the provisions under Section 10 provides for removal when a stigma attached and Section 6 is not controlled by Section 10. The Apex Court was of the view that Sections 6 and 10 are separate and what is provided under Section 6 is removal without stigma while the removal under Section 10 is removal with penal consequences, attaching stigma. It was also held that Section 6 clearly reveals the doctrine of pleasure. Paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the judgment reads as follows:

"8. In the present case, the appellant was appointed under sub-section (2) of Section 4 read with clause (e) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 and was removed by order dated 9.2.2000 under Section 6 of the Act. Having considered the submissions for the parties and after perusing the language of the sections, we have no hesitation to hold, that the field of Section 6 and Section 10 are separate. The removal spoken under Section 6 is removal without any stigma while the removal under Section 10 is removal with penal consequences attaching stigma. If submission for the appellant is accepted, viz. Section 6 empowers and Section 10 lays down the conditions and procedure to remove, then removal of trustee could only be for penal consequences and not otherwise. If that be so, there could be no reason to enact Section 6, as Section 10 covers such cases. It is significant, the removal under Section 6 is confined only to such trustees who are covered under clause (e) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 and who are also nominated by the State Government. Rights of trustees falling under the aforesaid clause (e) are rights created under a statute and hence that very creator can always limit or curtail such right. In such cases, if a trustee is removed, he cannot project any grievance that no opportunity was given to him. If any right which is creature of statute, is limited or curtailed by that very statute, in the absence of any other right under that very statute or the Constitution of India, such trustee cannot claim any right based on the principle of natural justice.

9. The removal spoken of here neither casts any stigma nor leads to any penal consequences. This clearly reveals the doctrine of pleasure which is implicit in this section. In any statute expression of the will of the legislature may be explicit or it may be implicit. It is open for the Courts, while interpreting any provision to spell or read with other provisions of the statute if so intended to read implicitly, in the absence of any explicit words that subserve the intent of the legislature.

10. In the present statute Section 6 refers to the trustee falling under clause (e), sub-section (1) of Section 7 refers to trustees falling under clauses (b) and (c) and sub-section (2) refers to trustees falling under clause (d) and sub-section (3) refers to trustees falling in clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 and Section 10 refers to cases of removal of trustees by way of stigma and Section 11 refers to the disability of such removed trustees. In view of this we have no hesitation to hold that the removal of trustee under Section 6 is based on the principle of the doctrine of pleasure. We may only strike a note here if the legislature would have used some other words for the word "removed" for expressing curtailment of the tenure of such trustee in Section 6, this possible confusion would not have arisen.

11. Once doctrine of pleasure is applicable neither the principle of natural justice would step in nor any question of giving an opportunity before removal would arise. It is significant when stigma is cast then sub-section (3) of Section 10 specifically provides for giving an opportunity to such incumbent before passing an order of removal under Section 10, while there is no such corresponding sub-section under Section 6. Thus, intent of legislation is very clear which reinforces the inference which we have drawn that doctrine of pleasure is implicit under Section 6."(emphasis supplied)

23. Herein also, the provisions, as noted already, are similar in the sense that sub-section (8) provides for removal with stigma and sub-section (7) provides for removal without stigma. These two are quite different and independent and sub-section (7) is not controlled by sub-section (8).

24. Now I will come to the decisions relied upon by learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner, Shri. Ranjith Thampan. The first one is BhagatSingh's case (1981 (2) SLR PandH 329). Therein the provision considered is Section 9A of the Punjabi University Act, 1961. The challenge was against the curtailment of the term. A fixed term of three years was provided for a Vice-Chancellor under Section 9A(2) which stipulates that "the Vice-Chancellor shall hold office for a term of three years which may be extended by the Chancellor, on similar advice, for such further periods not exceeding three years at a time as he may deem fit." Note 2 therein confers a power on the Government to terminate the deputation arrangement earlier than the period specified in the order of terms and conditions of deputation when exigencies so demand. While considering the question whether the term of appointment could be curtailed, it was held in para 12 as follows:

"12. The question arises whether the petitioner can be recalled by cutting short his term. We have already reproduced relevant portions of the Act, Rules and notifications. Section 9A of the Act does not authorise the Chancellor to cut short the tenure of three years or stipulate any condition which could result in cutting short the said term. Consequently, in the notification dated 30th November, 1979, the term of three years was fixed in the very first para. The other conditions of service mentioned in para 2 are in respect of 'remuneration and other conditions of service,' as required by sub-section (3). These conditions are, therefore, to be read subject to that of fixity of tenure provided in para 1. These conditions also cannot be varied to the disadvantage of the petitioner according to the proviso to sub-section (3). As the petitioner was in Government service, at the time of appointment, in order to assure him that his existing rights and privileges would continue, it was provided in the notification that he would be on deputation till be retired. In the absence of the said clause, he might have lost benefits of his past service. Therefore, the clause about deputation, in our view, is subservient to the main clause regarding fixity of tenure. It is also relevant to point out that in Note 2 ibid, it has been provided that a specific condition empowering the State Government to recall a Government employee before the expiry of the period of deputation shall invariably be incorporated in all orders transferring employees on deputation. In the present case, the order of transfer showing that such term was incorporated in it has not been produced. The irresistible inference is that such a term was not incorporated therein. In this situation, we are of the opinion that at the time of his appointment, the intention of the Government was not to recall him from the office of the Vice-Chancellor. It may also be highlighted that in the order, no exigency of service for recalling the petitioner has been given. Even he has not been given any posting. Therefore, in our view, he is being removed from the post of Vice-Chancellor on the pretext of recall, which cannot be done."

Earlier, in para 6, while considering the effect of the minimum period, it was held as follows:

"It is clear from sub-section (2) of Section 9A of the Act that the minimum term of a Vice-Chancellor has been fixed as three years and it is not negotiable."

After referring to the report of the Committee headed by Dr. D. S. Kothari regarding the organisational structure of the Universities in India, the Full Bench observed as follows in para 9:

"The Vice-Chancellor is the most important functionary in a University not only on the administrative side but also for securing right atmosphere for the teachers and students to do work effectively and in the right spirit."

These findings were heavily relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner to contend that the provisions herein are pari materia and the autonomous character of the University will justify the continuance of the Vice-Chancellor for a full term and the same can be curtailed only by invoking the power of removal under sub-section (8). Evidently, the provision therein and the provision herein, viz. sub-section (7) of Section 12 are not pari materia. Herein, the doctrine of pleasure has been engrafted in sub-section (7). A similar provision incorporating pleasure doctrine was not there in the Punjabi University Act. Therefore, the said decision is distinguishable on the facts of the case as well as on the provisions contained in both enactments.

25. The decision of the Allahabad High Court inHari Om Tripathi's case (1999 (3) AWC 2414) relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner, was a case wherein the petitioner was sent on deputation for a period of one year and before the expiry of the term, he was reverted to the original department. The decision of the Full Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in BhagatSingh's case (supra) was relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner therein. The decision in BhagatSingh's case (supra) was distinguished stating that in the said case the petitioner was appointed for a period of three years as Vice-Chancellor. It was finally held that the said appointment cannot be equated with that of deputation. It was finally observed as follows:

"But the post of Vice-Chancellor cannot be equated with any other post. A person is appointed as Vice-Chancellor from any post, he cannot be said to be on deputation."

Apparently, those observations cannot help the petitioner herein, since evidently the learned Judge was considering only a case of deputation and such observations were made while distinguishing the facts of the case with that of the Full Bench decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in BhagatSingh's case (supra).

26. Need for Reason and Scope of Judicial Review

Now, the next aspect, therefore, will be regarding the need for any reason while exercising the pleasure doctrine and the scope of judicial review on the same. Various legal requirements and the relevant principles have been considered by the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case {2010 (6) SCC 331}. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner relied upon para 22 of the said judgment to contend for the position that even the doctrine of pleasure cannot be a licence to act arbitrarily. The said paragraph reads as follows:

"22. There is a distinction between the doctrine of pleasure as it existed in a feudal set-up and the doctrine of pleasure in a democracy governed by the rule of law. In a nineteenth century feudal set-up unfettered power and discretion of the Crown was not an alien concept. However, in a democracy governed by rule of law, where arbitrariness in any form is eschewed, no Government or authority has the right to do what it pleases. The doctrine of pleasure does not mean a licence to act arbitrarily, capriciously or whimsically. It is presumed that discretionary powers conferred in absolute and unfettered terms on any public authority will necessarily and obviously be exercised reasonably and for the public good."

Therefore, the action should be reasonable.

27. In fact, regarding the need for a reason, it was held by the Apex Court in para 33 that need for reason exists and the withdrawal of pleasure cannot be at the sweet will of the authority concerned. Paragraphs 33 and 34 laid down the principles thus:

"33. The doctrine of pleasure as originally envisaged in England was a prerogative power which was unfettered. It meant that the holder of an office under pleasure could be removed at any time, without notice, without assigning cause, and without there being a need for any cause. But where the rule of law prevails, there is nothing like unfettered discretion or unaccountable action. The degree of need for reason may vary. The degree of scrutiny during judicial review may vary. But the need for reason exists. As a result when the Constitution of India provides that some offices will be held during the pleasure of the President, without any express limitations or restrictions, it should however necessarily be read as being subject to the "fundamentals of constitutionalism." Therefore in a constitutional set-up when an office is held during the pleasure of any authority, and if no limitations or restrictions are placed on the "at pleasure" doctrine, it means that the holder of the office can be removed by the authority at whose pleasure he holds office, at any time, without notice and without assigning any cause.

34. The doctrine of pleasure, however, is not a licence to act with unfettered discretion to act arbitrarily, whimsically, or capriciously. It does not dispense with the need for a cause for withdrawal of the pleasure. In other words, "at pleasure" doctrine enables the removal of a person holding office at the pleasure of an authority, summarily, without any obligation to give any notice or hearing to the person removed, and without any obligation to assign any reasons or disclose any cause for the removal, or withdrawal of pleasure. The withdrawal of pleasure cannot be at the sweet will, whim and fancy of the authorities but can only be for valid reasons."

Finally, in para 69, it was held further thus:

"The only limitation on the exercise of the power is that it should be for valid reasons. What constitute valid reasons would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case."

28. In para 71, while considering the scope of judicial review of withdrawal of pleasure, their Lordships held further as follows:

"When a Governor holds office during the pleasure of the Government and the power to remove at the pleasure of the President is not circumscribed by any conditions or restrictions, it follows that the power is exercisable at any time, without assigning any cause. However, there is a distinction between the need for a cause for the removal, and the need to disclose the cause for removal. While the President need not disclose or inform the cause for his removal to the Governor, it is imperative that a cause must exist. If we do not proceed on that premise, it would mean that the President on the advice of the Council of Ministers, may make any order which may be manifestly arbitrary or whimsical or mala fide. Therefore, while no cause or reason be disclosed or assigned for removal by exercise of such prerogative power, some valid cause should exist for the removal. Therefore, while we do not accept the contention that an order under Article 156 is not justiciable, we accept the contention that no reason need be assigned and no cause need be shown and no notice need be issued to the Governor before removing a Governor."

Therefore, going by the same, it can be seen that the doctrine of pleasure is not meant as a licence to act arbitrarily, capriciously or whimsically. Absoluteness attached to the words "pleasure doctrine" is in regard to the tenure of office. There is a need for a reason to invoke the doctrine. But there is no obligation to give any notice or hearing to the person. It will also show that such removal can be without any obligation to assign any reasons or disclose any cause for the removal or withdrawal of pleasure, (para 34 of B. P. Singhal's case (supra)). Going by these principles, it can be seen that the circumstances may vary from case to case and further depending upon the statutory scheme.

29. Herein, I will refer to a decision cited by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner, viz. Shardindu'scase {(2007) 6 SCC 276}. That was a case where the tenure of Chairperson of the National Council for Teachers Education was sought to be curtailed. The Chairperson was selected for a period of four years or till he attains the age of 60. He was working under deputation from the service of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. He assumed charge as Chairperson on 22.1.2004. The deputation was terminated for repatriating him to the parent department in the light of a report of the Vigilance Commission of Uttar Pradesh. The issue was considered in the light of the provisions of the National Council for Teachers Education Act, 1993.

30. Therein, the term of the Chairperson as provided under Section 4(2) of the Act is four years or till he completes the age of sixty years, whichever is earlier. The respondents contended that the pleasure doctrine applies. It was held by the Apex Court that statutory appointments like the one are not pleasure appointments and therefore the contentions cannot be accepted. In para 17, the principles were laid down thus:

"17. Learned Additional Solicitor General tried to support his submission on pleasure doctrine under Article 310 of the Constitution and submitted that the respondent has been appointed by the Central Government and therefore, it is the pleasure of the President to cut short his appointment. In this connection, learned ASG invited our attention to a decision of this Court in Union of India v. Tulsiram Patel {(1985) 3 SCC 398} especially to paras 34 and 44. The distinction between statutory appointment and pleasure appointment has to be kept in mind. The pleasure appointments are such where the incumbents are appointed at the pleasure of the President, like Governors, etc. As against this, statutory appointments are made under the statute and the service conditions of the incumbents are governed by the statute. They are not pleasure appointments. Governor appointed under the Constitution is purely pleasure appointment or appointment of such nature which the incumbent holds at the pleasure of the President or the Governors as the case may be. Such appointments may be cut short. Their Lordships in the aforesaid case have dealt with the distinction between the pleasure appointment and appointment under the civil services. Their Lordships held that in India the doctrine of pleasure appointment received constitutional sanction under Article 310 but unlike in the United Kingdom in India it is not subject to any law made by Parliament but is subject to only whatever expressly provided by the Constitution. Therefore, the distinction has to be borne in mind, the doctrine of pleasure appointment as it existed in feudal set-up and in the democratic setup. Their Lordships discussed the doctrine of pleasure appointment in UK where the incumbent was appointed at the pleasure of the King but in India this concept has been adopted under Article 310 of the Constitution and how it is to be exercised has also been laid down in the Constitution. Therefore, the concept of pleasure doctrine cannot be invoked in the present case. Every appointment made by the Central Government is in the name of the President but by that it does not mean that all the appointments are pleasure appointments dehors the Constitution or statutory rules bearing on the subject. In the present case, the appointment made was of statutory appointment and the service conditions of the Chairperson and members have been laid down, likewise their removal has also been laid down on incurring certain disqualifications. Therefore, the submissions of learned Additional Solicitor General have no legs to stand."

Actually, the said decision turned on the specific terms of Section 4 of the Act therein. Herein, the situation is different, in the light of the specific terms of Section 12(7). Therefore, herein it cannot be said that it is a simple statutory appointment unconditioned by any pleasure doctrine and the said decision may not apply to the facts of this case.

31. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner Shri. Ranjith Thampan raised a contention that the petitioner was under central deputation which conferred more status and higher emoluments to him. He was drafted to the State cadre for appointment as Vice-Chancellor for a fixed term of five years. The terms of employment as Vice-Chancellor were beneficial to him on protocol-wise basis also. Accordingly, he had given consent for the appointment. It is also submitted that when he deprived of the same, it cannot be supported, as the order really affects the benefits granted to the petitioner adversely. In that context, my attention was invited to a decision of the Apex Court in DebeshChandra Das v. Union of India and Others {(1969) 2 SCC 158}. The facts of the case show that the appellant therein joined Indian Civil Service and was allotted to the State of Assam. In 1964 he was appointed as Secretary to the Government of India. While continuing so, he was issued with a letter stating that he is sought to be reverted to his parent cadre or he can proceed on leave preparatory to retirement, or he should agree to accept some post lower than that of Secretary to the Central Government. The said action was under challenge and the contention raised by the appellant was that actually the reversion to Assam service amounts to reduction in rank. Therein, the Apex Court held the view as follows:

"But this case is clearly one of reduction in rank with a distinct stigma upon the man. This requires action in accordance with Article 311(2) of the Constitution and since none was taken, the order of reversion cannot be sustained."

32. Evidently, the situation herein cannot be said to be similar or identical. The petitioner was reverted to Kerala cadre and was thereafter appointed as Vice-Chancellor. Even though the said aspect is sought to be raised on the plea that removal from the post of Vice-Chancellor will deprive him benefits by way of status, etc., in the light of the position that emerges as above, that pleasure doctrine applies, it cannot be said that it is a reversion as such. In fact, the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case (supra) in para 67 stated as follows:

"67. The provision for removal at the pleasure of an authority without any restriction, as noticed above, applies to Ministers as also the Attorney General apart from Governors. Persons of calibre, experience, and distinction are chosen to fill these posts. Such persons are chosen not to enable them to earn their livelihood but to serve society. It is wrong to assume that such persons having been chosen on account of their stature, maturity and experience will be demoralised or be in constant fear of removal, unless there is security of tenure. They know when they accept these offices that they will be holding the office during the pleasure of the President." (emphasis supplied)

Therefore, when a person is chosen as Vice-Chancellor, he knows when he accepts the office, that he will be holding the office during the pleasure of the authority concerned, herein, being the Chancellor. Therefore, the contention that he is deprived of his status, etc. cannot have any impact on the applicability and exercise of the doctrine, once it is seen that the circumstances which led to his removal are only related to the exercise of pleasure doctrine.

33. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner then argued that there was no real reason for removal and the administrative reasons pointed out in the orders and in the counter-affidavits have no justification and are irrelevant. It is pointed out that as the petitioner was doing well as Vice-Chancellor, it cannot be said that immediately he was sought to be replaced for appointing a Vice-Chancellor in terms of the Statute. While attacking Ext.P3 order wherein it is mentioned that the fifth respondent will hold office till formalities of appointing a new Vice-Chancellor is completed, learned Senior Counsel submitted that such is not an administrative reason at all.

34. The counter-affidavits filed separately by respondents 1 to 3 emphasise the administrative reasons. It is stated in para 5 of the counter-affidavit of respondents 2 and 3 that the administrative reason was that the regular appointment of the Vice-Chancellor has to be done in accordance with the procedure provided in the Act and the appointment of the petitioner is a stop gap arrangement. It is explained that the administrative reason stated in Ext.P3 is for the new appointment of the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with the provisions of the University Act. It is also stated that the petitioner has not alleged any mala fides either actual or inferential against the Government. Finally, it is pointed out that Ext.P3 order had to be passed with a view to facilitate the new appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and to fulfill the statutory obligation of the Government to make selection of the Vice-Chancellor. Therefore, it is pointed out that the Chancellor was right in investing the power to be exercised by the Vice-Chancellor, to the fifth respondent. Reliance is placed on sub-section (10) of Section 12.

35. On behalf of the first respondent, Chancellor of the University, a counter-affidavit has been filed. With regard to the removal of the petitioner, reliance is placed on Section 12(7) of the Act and it is submitted that the petitioner cannot have a right to continue his full term of appointment simply on the ground that his appointment contains a term of five years. Section 12(10) is relied upon to justify the order Ext.P4. It is also stated that the first respondent appointed the petitioner based on the recommendation of the Government and that the Government which originally recommended to appoint the petitioner, necessarily shall have the power to recall that recommendation as well. It is also pointed out in para 5 that the petitioner has not raised any allegations of mala fides against the first respondent also.

36. Learned Senior Counsel appearing for the additional 6th respondent, Shri. K. Ramakumar also points out that the petitioner has not alleged any mala fides against the Government, the first respondent. In fact, in ground 'H' of the writ petition, what is alleged is that Ext.P3 is issued due to extraneous and irrelevant considerations. It is alleged that the Chief Secretary as well as the fifth respondent Addl. Chief Secretary are understood to have been irritated by the literary publications of the petitioner. Evidently, therefore, as the notification in question is issued by the Chancellor, no mala fides have been alleged against the Chancellor. It can be safely concluded that the order is not under attack for any mala fides on the part of the Chancellor or the Government. The allegation made that the Chief Secretary was provoked by his article, cannot have any relevance at all and he is also not made a party in the writ petition. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner had invited my attention to the details available from Ext.P12 produced along with LA No. 17855/2011, a petition to accept documents. Ext.P12 contains Cabinet Notes. It will also show that the petitioner is being recalled due to administrative reasons. It is also stated that a request is being made for giving charge of the Vice-Chancellor to the Agricultural Production Commissioner "till formalities for appointing the new Vice-Chancellor are completed." The fifth respondent is functioning as Agricultural Production Commissioner. Therefore, it is clear that the article written by the petitioner has not been discussed in any form and nothing is mentioned against the petitioner in that regard during the deliberations also. Hence, even though the petitioner presumes that the said article may be the main reason, it is not supported by any cogent material and the same was not actually acted upon for such an action. It can thus be safely concluded that the petitioner has failed to establish any extraneous reasons or mala fides for issuance of Exts. P3 and P4.

37. The position, therefore, that emerges is that the pleasure doctrine under Section 12(7) applies and it is not controlled by the provisions of Section 12(8) of the Act. I have already extracted the provisions of the similar University Acts in force in Kerala and the provision under Section 12(7) herein stands different from the relevant provisions of those enactments concerning appointment of Vice-Chancellor. The pleasure doctrine is specifically engrafted in Section 12(7) of the Act herein. Otherwise, the words in the provision will be a surplusage.

38. The Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case {(2010) 6 SCC 331} has noted the difference in language under Articles 310 and 311 of the Constitution of India. The same have already been discussed above. It was held that one of the examples where the pleasure doctrine is subject to restriction, will be Articles 310 and 311. It was also held in para 49 of the judgment that in the case of Ministers and the Attorney General, Articles 75 and 76 do not provide any period of tenure. Herein, the provision under Section 12(8), as noticed already, only enables the Chancellor to exercise the power of removal under specific contingencies. The restriction as far as removal of civil servants under Articles 310 and 311 is quite absent when we compare the wording of Section 12(8) with that of the provisions of those Articles. It cannot be said that the post of Vice-Chancellor is a civil post under the State Government. Therefore, the procedure for removal of civil servants, that is known to law, cannot have any relevance at all here. As already noticed, Section 12(8) operates in a different field, i.e. when a removal is sought in the event of a stigma.

39. Now, the remaining issues are the scope of judicial review and sufficiency of the reason. With regard to the scope of judicial review, while discussing Article 156(1) the Apex Court in B. P. Singhal's case (supra) laid down in para 82 thus:

"82. The President in exercising power under Article 156(1) should act in a manner which is not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. In the event of challenge of withdrawal of the pleasure, the Court will necessarily assume that it is for compelling reasons. Consequently, where the aggrieved person is not able to establish a prima facie instance of arbitrariness or mala fides, in his removal, the Court will refuse to interfere. However, where a prima facie case of arbitrariness or mala fides is made out, the Court can require the Union Government to produce records/materials to satisfy itself that the withdrawal of pleasure was for good and compelling reasons. What will constitute good and compelling reasons would depend upon the facts of the case. Having regard to the nature of functions of the Governor in maintaining Centre-State relations, and the flexibility available to the Government in such matters, it is needless to say that there will be no interference unless a very strong case, is made out. The position, therefore, is that the decision is open to judicial review but in a very limited extent."

Therefore, the scope of judicial review, as explained by the Apex Court in the above decision in a matter like this, is of a very limited extent. Unless there is a prima facie instance of arbitrariness or mala fides, the Court will refuse to interfere. In para 83(iv), finally their Lordships emphatically laid down further that "However, the Court will not interfere merely on the ground that a different view is possible or that the material or reasons are insufficient." Therefore, guided by this principle, I will now examine the contention raised by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that the administrative reasons shown cannot have any legal acceptance.

40. The proceedings Ext.P3 issued by the Government states that "owing to administrative reasons, the Government have now decided to recall the petitioner with the permission of the Chancellor." Para 3 therein will show that the service of the Agricultural Production commissioner is placed at the disposal of the Animal Husbandry Department for holding the charge of the Vice-Chancellor of the University "till formalities for appointing the new Vice-Chancellor are completed". Therefore, what is contemplated as administrative reason is the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor. Ext.P4 notification issued by the Chancellor authorises the Agricultural Production Commissioner to exercise the powers of the Vice-Chancellor till a new Vice-Chancellor is appointed under the provisions of the Act. The power under Section 12(10) is invoked therein. The Cabinet Note available as Ext.P12(3) produced along with IA No. 17855/2011 also states the same. Ext.P12(5) is the decision of the Cabinet which also reiterates the same, that till a new Vice-Chancellor is appointed after completing the formalities, the Agricultural Production Commissioner can be given charge of the Vice-Chancellor and accordingly a recommendation to that effect was placed before the Chancellor. As already noticed in the counter-affidavit also, these aspects have been pointed out.

41. The appointment of a Vice-Chancellor in terms of the provisions of the Act are covered by sub-sections (2) to (4) of Section 12. Sub-section (2) provides that the Vice-Chancellor should be appointed by the Chancellor from among the panel of names recommended by the Search Committee and the constitution of the Committee is also provided therein. Sub-section (3) confers power on the Chancellor to call for a fresh recommendation, if the names of the persons recommended by the Committee are not approved by the Chancellor. Sub-section (4) provides for appointment of the Vice-Chancellor with the concurrence of the Government. If there is a failure on the part of the Committee to submit a panel, the Chancellor is given power to appoint a person whom he deems fit to be the Vice-Chancellor, on the advice of the Government. Therefore, this is the procedure prescribed for appointment of a Vice-Chancellor. Resort to such a method is evidently based on the provisions of the Act. It can only be seen that the said exercise will go in tune with the provisions of the Act. Therefore, what is pointed out as an administrative reason is having statutory recognition under the express provisions of the Act also.

42. Therefore, when the Government proposed the same, it was accepted by the Governor being the Chancellor of the University. As is clear from B. P. Singhal's case (supra), a person who is appointed as Vice-Chancellor, cannot be removed by invoking the pleasure doctrine without any reason. It is stated therein that arbitrarily or whimsically such an action cannot be taken. Herein, it cannot be said that the Governor/Chancellor has acted on his own sweet will, without any reason, to curtail the term of the petitioner. Various details as discussed above will show that the proposal is for appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor in terms of the provisions of the Act and therefore the petitioner had to pave way for the same and accordingly the notifications have been issued. At no stretch of imagination, it can be seen that the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor is not a genuine administrative reason which can be deprecated as so an arbitrary reason for this Court to interfere. Apart from that, as already laid down in para 83 of B. P. Singhal's case (supra), even if a different view is possible, the Court will not interfere and there cannot be interference on the basis that materials or reasons are insufficient. Therefore, the scope of judicial review of the decision is very limited herein. The petitioner was recalled for facilitating the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor. For that purpose, now the charge of the Vice-Chancellor is given to the Agricultural Production Commissioner by invoking Section 12(10). Section 12(10) confers power on the Chancellor to act in such situations. In fact, Shri. Ranjith Thampan, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner submitted that even if the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor was required, the petitioner could have been continued till such process is over. The choice is really for respondents 1 and 2 herein and the petitioner cannot also insist that he should have been continued in the office of the Vice-Chancellor, in the interregnum. Simultaneous proceedings, while he is actually in office, could not have been initiated.

43. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner submitted that Ext.P4 notification is issued in supersession of the earlier notification and actually there is no legal effect for it. The notification is issued invoking the power under sub-sections (5), (7) and (10) of Section 12. What is pointed out is that it is not expressly stated therein that the petitioner is removed or his term is curtailed. Evidently, the notification is issued in supersession of Ext.P2 notification by invoking the power under sub-section (7), curtailing his term. It is a composite notification whereby by invoking sub-section (10) of Section 12, the Agricultural Production Commissioner is authorised to exercise the powers of the Vice-Chancellor. I do not find any infirmity in the said notification also.

44. Much emphasis was made by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner on the qualifications of the petitioner, Ext.P7 Confidential Record and the fact that he was on central deputation, to bolster up his contention that the petitioner should have been allowed to continue for a full term. As noted already, the removal of the petitioner is only in exercise of the pleasure doctrine and no stigma is cast on him. Therefore, a comparative assessment of his merits based on Ext.P7 and other qualifications, do not arise for a decision here.

45. Learned Senior Government Pleader relied upon the decision of the Apex Court in SamsherSingh v. State of Punjab and Another {(1974) 2 SCC 831} to contend for the position that the Governor is acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers and reliance is also placed on The State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid (AIR 1954 SC 245) to contend that unless mala fides are established, there is no scope for a judicial review when the pleasure doctrine is invoked. The other decision relied upon is SatyavirSingh and Others v. Union of India and Others {(1985) 4 SCC 252}. The Apex Court therein considered the scope of Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India based on the earlier decision of the Apex Court in Union of India v. Tulsiram Patel {(1985) 3 SCC 398}. The decision of the Apex Court in Om Narain Agarwal and Others v. Nagar Palika Shahjahanpur and Others {(1993) 2 SC 244} was relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel for the additional 6th respondent to contend that there will not be any violation of the principles of natural justice in not affording any opportunity to the person concerned before removal. In the light of the view already taken by me, I am not discussing in detail these decisions.

For all these reasons, the writ petition fails and the same is dismissed. No costs.


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