Mysuru: The High Court has provided temporary respite to Prof. NK Loknath, permitting him to maintain his position as the Chancellor of Mysore University until further instructions. The court has clarified that while the position cannot be left vacant, no administrative determinations related to this role should be executed during this period.
This development comes in response to a petition filed by Prof. Sarath Ananthamurthy, Dr. G. Venkatesh Kumar, and others, who sought the cancellation of the appointment order issued by the Governor on March 23, 2023, appointing Prof. NK Loknath as the Chancellor of Mysore University. In response, Prof. Loknath filed an appeal challenging this order. Chief Justice Prasanna Balachandra Varale, presiding over a single-member bench, heard the appeal and adjourned the proceedings. It’s important to note that this decision does not indicate Prof. Loknath’s eligibility to continue as the Chancellor.
The controversy centers on the appointment process, which saw Prof. NK Loknath recommended by the search committee, including Prof. Sarath Ananthamurthy and Prof. DS Guru. The Governor subsequently appointed Loknath as the Chancellor for a four-year term or until he reaches the age of 67, effective from March 23, 2023. The petitioners contended that Loknath’s appointment did not adhere to the qualifications outlined in the Karnataka State University Act. Furthermore, they highlighted an ongoing criminal case against Loknath, which, in their view, contravenes the requirement that appointees should not have pending criminal cases.
The petition additionally expressed apprehensions about the Supreme Court’s recommendations regarding Chancellor appointments and raised doubts about the application process’s timeline. A notification was released on November 8, 2022, with a submission cutoff date of November 24, 2022. Interestingly, on the same day, Loknath secured an injunction against his case in the High Court.
Moreover, the inquiry conducted by the Justice Ranga Vithalachar Commission in 2007 into professor appointments revealed that, in accordance with University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, a professor should have ten years of teaching experience. Allegedly, Loknath did not meet this criterion.