The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to bring in an ordinance to remove Arif Mohammed Khan from the post of chancellor of all universities in the state, The Indian Express reported. The development came amid a tussle between Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government.

The state government is looking to make experts in the field of education or Cabinet members as chancellor of the universities.

Kerala Higher Education Minister R Bindu told PTI the government has taken the decision for the improvement of the higher education and universities in the state. On whether Khan would sign the ordinance, the minister said she hopes that he would act according to his Constitutional duties.

A controversy sparked off on October 23 after Khan had directed vice chancellors of nine state-run universities to submit their resignations, citing a Supreme Court verdict. The vice chancellors challenged the order in the High Court.

On October 24, the High Court allowed the vice chancellors to continue at their positions till a final order on the matter is passed by the governor.

At another hearing on Tuesday, the court directed Khan not to act against vice chancellors to whom he had sent show cause notices until the judge hears the case, PTI reported.

On Tuesday, Khan’s lawyer told the court that the governor had been travelling and had returned only recently, The Indian Express reported. The lawyer asked for more time to file a response.

The bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran then adjourned the case till November 17.

“I am told at the Bar that the petitioners [vice chancellors] have filed their objections before the Chancellor and have sought an opportunity of hearing,” the judge said. “Obviously, the proceedings of the Chancellor can be completed only after such a hearing is also completed.”

Meanwhile, the court rejected the state government’s petition challenging the appointment of Ciza Thomas as the acting vice chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University. Khan had rejected the state government’s recommendation that Indian Administrative Service officer Ishita Roy should be appointed to the post.

The High Court also issued a notice to the University Grants Commission and made it a party to the case.

On October 23, Khan sought the resignation of vice chancellors of 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.

Two days earlier, the Supreme Court had 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 vice chancellors on October 23, Khan said the Supreme Court verdict was applicable to other universities too.