Deadlock at KTU triggers apprehension among students over degree certificates

The administrative impasse that has dogged the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) since the temporary appointment of Ciza Thomas as its Vice Chancellor has left several graduates concerned over the delay in issuance of degree certificates.

The deadlock appears to be a grim precursor to what lies ahead for other universities with the fate of several Vice Chancellors hanging in the balance.

The Supreme Court judgment that had set aside M.S. Rajasree’s appointment as KTU Vice Chancellor and the subsequent appointment of Prof. Thomas under controversial circumstances have resulted in an increasing backlog of applications.

The university had issued around 6,000 degree certificates since the declaration of results of its fourth B.Tech batch on August 1. However, nearly 4,000 applications for certificates have been stalled since the change at the helm. These included around 500 certificates that will have to be reprinted since they have Prof. Rajasree’s signature affixed on them. The results of 11 examinations also awaited the approval of the Vice Chancellor.

Sources attribute the crisis to the alleged refusal of the digital signature facility for the Vice Chancellor in-charge. In her affidavit submitted before the Kerala High Court, Prof. Thomas claimed to have been “incapacitated” from issuing degree certificates due to the non-cooperation by the statutory officers and the staff in the university.

Divergent views

However, the university administration is said to be awaiting a clarity on the issue before activating Prof. Thomas’ digital signature facility. A section of the employees are concerned over the possibility of certificates bearing Prof. Thomas’ signature being rendered invalid if her appointment is quashed by a court at a later stage. Such circumstances could also result in invalid certificates getting uploaded to the DigiLocker.

However, another group within the university questioned the rationale behind the apprehension by pointing out that the validity of certificates that had been signed by Prof. Rajasree could also come under a scanner since her appointment had been declared void ab initio.

With her presence at the university triggering protests by Left-leaning student and staff organisations, Prof. Thomas has chosen to stay away until the High Court delivered its verdict in the petition submitted by the State government to challenge the appointment. The hearing in the plea has been posted for November 23.

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