Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday issued show cause notices to the vice-chancellors of two more universities, asking them to show their legal right to hold the posts, The Indian Express reported.

Khan issued the notices to Mubarak Pasha and Saji Gopinath, the vice-chancellors of the Sree Narayana Guru Open University and the Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology. The governor directed them to explain why their appointments should not be declared illegal and asked them to respond to the notices by November 4.

On Monday, Khan had issued similar notices to the vice-chancellors of the University of Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi University, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kannur University, APJ Adbul Kalam Technology University, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, University of Calicut and Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University.

The vice-chancellors of these nine universities have been asked to reply to the notices by November 3.

Khan had directed the vice chancellors to submit their resignations, citing a Supreme Court verdict. The nine vice chancellors challenged the order in the Kerala High Court.

On Monday, the High Court allowed the vice-chancellors to continue at their positions till a final order on the matter is passed by the governor.

On Tuesday, Left-affiliated student activists and trade unions held protests against Khan at many places in Kerala and burnt his effigies, the Hindustan Times reported. The state’s ruling Left Democratic Front alliance also announced a series of protests against Khan and a rally outside the Raj Bhavan on November 15.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party said that it would not allow the state government to single out and attack the governor. The party’s state chief K Surendran claimed that the higher education sector in Kerala is in doldrums due to “nepotism and politicisation”.

The Supreme Court verdict

Khan has issued the notices to the vice-chancellors by citing a Supreme Court verdict passed on October 21. In the judgement, the court held that the search committee that recommended appointing Rajasree MS as the vice chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University was in violation of University Grants Commission norms.

The court said that according to the University Act 2015, the committee should unanimously nominate three persons for the role, but it had only recommended Rajasree’s name. The judges set aside her appointment.

In a letter to the nine vice chancellors on Sunday, Khan claimed that the Supreme Court verdict was applicable to other universities too.