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DUTA objects to inclusion of supreme council member in interview panel of St Stephen's College

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Delhi University Teachers' Association and students' bodies Tuesday demanded a rollback of the decision of St Stephen's College to include a member of the institution's Supreme Council in the interview panel for selection of students.

In a statement, the DUTA also criticised the institution's decision of sending warning letters to three of its governing body members over the issue.

The three members of the governing body had objected to the inclusion of a member of its Supreme Council in the interview panel, saying it is a violation of the college constitution.

The three members -- Nandita Narain of Department of Mathematics, N P Ashley of Department of English and Abhishek Singh of Department of Economics -- had condemned the "illegal and unacademic decision taken by the Principal", that "could compromise the academic integrity of our admissions process" while demanding its withdrawal.

The DUTA said the "vindictive step" to silence dissent, criticism and expression of views has no place in a university and is antithetical to the very idea of a university.

"Nothing but a guilty mind faced with public outcry over a serious step that it cannot defend by offering credible arguments can explain such arbitrary and authoritarian action," it said.

The DUTA called the principal's action of issuing warning letters to teachers "silly" and demanded the withdrawal of the letters and the reversal of the decision.

"The matter at hand is grave and such use of laughable arguments only points to the possibility of sinister, and not merely ignorant, considerations at play. The letters of warning are a threat to the academic character of the institution and the purpose behind the warning is clearly to threaten all teachers against expressing their opinion freely and fearlessly," it said.

The RSS-affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad threatened to mobilise student community if the decision was not withdrawn.

"The decision of including a member of Supreme Council in the interview panel is arbitrary and condemnable. This would weaken the secular fabric of the university. This is not only against the constitution of the college but also against the principles laid down in India's constitution," the ABVP said.

The Student's Federation of India (SFI), which is the student wing of the CPI (M), said such a move in the institution, which is 95 per cent UGC-funded and five per cent student-funded, will lead to more backdoor admissions in the college.

"This move by the college administration is totally dictatorial as most of the teaching staff present in the staff council meeting had strongly protested against the unilateral decision by the administration," it said.

The SFI also condemned the "methods of intimidation" adopted by the college administration against the three teacher representatives for speaking the truth.

The Supreme Council is a subset of six members of the Governing Body (Managing Committee) and comprises all members of the Church of North India.

According to the college constitution, the Supreme Council of the college shall have the control of the religious and moral instruction of students of the college and of all matters affecting its religious character as a Christian college of the Church of North India.

The announcement to include a member of the Supreme Council was made at a meeting of the college's Staff Council by the principal held on Monday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 21:51 IST