St. Stephen’s Principal allegedly violates Rules; Appoints non-academic member in student admission panel

St. Stephen’s Principal allegedly violates Rules; Appoints non-academic member in student admission panel
Abhay Anand | May 14, 2019 - 3:07 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, MAY 14: St. Stephen’s College Delhi has landed in a fresh controversy with alleged inclusion of a non-academic member from the Supreme Council in the interview panel for selection of students for Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Courses. A large section of permanent teachers of the College have demanded rollback of the unilateral decision taken by the Principal, terming it ‘illegal’ and against the College Constitution.

The row has erupted when the admission season in the University of Delhi (DU) is about to kick in and St. Stephens is among the most sought after college in the country. The teachers of the college are claiming that the decision will compromise the academic integrity of St. Stephen’s.

In a meeting of the St. Stephen's College Staff Council held this Monday, the Principal, Prof John Varghese, reportedly announced that the interview panel for selection of students for admission to the College will include a member of the Supreme Council.

Prof Nandita Narain, former President of the Delhi University Teachers Association, who is also the Head of the Mathematics Department at St.Stephen’s College said that the Supreme Council is a subset of six members of the Governing Body (Managing Committee) all members of the Church of North India. The Chairperson of both the Supreme Council and the Governing Body is the Bishop of Delhi, and Member Secretary of both is the Principal.

According to Prof Narain, there is a clear conflict of interest in the Principal bringing in another member of the Supreme Council into the interview panel for admissions, as it is the Supreme Council that selects the Principal, and will also take a decision about the renewal of his appointment for another term of five years.

The Constitution of the College also states that the Supreme Council of the College shall have no jurisdiction over the administration of the College.

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Almost all the permanent teachers present at the meeting protested strongly against this unilateral announcement. The teachers are of the view that the appointment is in violation of the 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court that upheld the minority status of the College had permitted the college to have a separate admissions process including an interview with 15% weightage only because the interviews were conducted solely by the teachers of the college.

The teachers have also alleged that never in the history of the College has a non-academic person from outside the faculty of the College been a member of the admissions process.

They are also questioning the intention behind the unilateral appointment by saying that in the meeting of the Governing Body held on March 14, 2019; no such decision had been announced by the Principal.
The teachers are also claiming that the Principal not only violated the College Constitution but also Delhi University Ordinance XVIII, as he 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, said a St. Stephen’s teacher.

Prof Narain said, “We the teacher's 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 admissions process, and demand that it is withdrawn.”

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