New Delhi, May 13 The members of the Governing Body (GB) of St. Stephen’s College on Monday accused Principal John Varghese of taking an “illegal decision” to include a member of the Supreme Council in the interview panel for selection of students for admission to the college and sought withdrawal of the decision.
The Supreme Council is a subset of six members of the Governing Body (managing committee) who are all members of the Church of North India.
In a press release, the members said that the Principal made the shocking announcement of including a member of the Supreme Council in the interview panel at a meeting of the college staff council.
The Chairperson of both the Supreme Council and the Governing Body is the Bishop of Delhi, and the Principal is the Member Secretary of both the bodies.
Referring to the constitution of the St. Stephen’s College, the release said that Clause 4 of the constitution states that the Supreme Council shall have the control of the religious and moral instructions to the students of the college and of all matters affecting its religious character as a Christian college of the Church of North India.
It will also appoint, after proper advertisement, the Principal of the college who shall be a member of the Church of North India or of a church that is in communion with the Church of North India.
Clause 5 of the constitution states that the Supreme Council shall have no jurisdiction over the administration of the college.
The release further said that almost all the permanent teachers present at the meeting protested strongly against the unilateral announcement.
They stated that the decision was in violation of the college constitution which categorically stipulates that the Supreme Council shall have no jurisdiction in the administration of the college.
They also said that a 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court, which upheld the minority status of the College, had permitted the college to have a separate admission process, including an interview with 15 per cent weightage, only because the interviews were conducted solely by the teachers of the college.
“Never in the history of the college has a non-academic person from outside the college faculty been a member of the admission process,” the release said.
The GB members also said that in the Governing Body meeting held on March 14, no such decision had been announced by the Principal.
“He (the Principal) has made this unilateral announcement in the Staff Council. Hence, he has acted in violation of the powers of both the Governing Body as well as the Staff Council, as laid down in Ordinance XVIII of Delhi University,” the release said.
The teachers said there was a clear conflict of interest in the Principal bringing in another member of the Supreme Council into the interview panel for admissions, as it was the Supreme Council that selected the Principal. It was also the Supreme Council which took the decision about the renewal of the Principal’s appointment for another term of five years.
“We, the undersigned teachers representatives on the Governing Body of St. Stephen’s College strongly condemn the illegal and unacademic decision taken by the Principal, that could compromise the academic integrity of our admission process, and demand that it is withdrawn,” the release said.
The release was issued by Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, and member of the Governing Body.