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St Stephen's warns teachers who objected inclusion of supreme council member in interview panel

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Delhi University's St Stephen's College Tuesday sent warning letters to three of its governing body members for condemning the inclusion of a member of the institution's Supreme Council in the interview panel for selection of students.

In a statement, 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 warning letters sent to the three members said they (the trio) issued "false and irresponsible comments to the media".

In the warning letters issued by college principal Professor John Varghese, the teachers have been "advised not to repeat such irresponsible and unbecoming behaviour in future", failing which college will take appropriate action against them.

"The said guidelines were duly reported in the Governing Body held on March 14, 2019 in the presence of the teachers representatives.

"In the light of the above, I am shocked to see that you deliberately chose to ignore the facts and your press release is a complete concoction, factually and legally incorrect, and therefore it is against the code of professional ethics and the ethos of this institution," the letter issued to the teachers read.

The letter also accused the teachers of falsely claiming that the decision was made by the principal.

The decision was of the Supreme Council, "which has the sole power to decide on the admission policy as the College is a Christian minority institution", the letter said.

Sources said a staff association meeting was held on Tuesday, during which it was decided that the teachers will hold a protest against the move on May 17 and will also explore legal options.

The teachers will also write a letter to the principal on the issue.

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.

"The decision is in violation of the College Constitution that categorically stipulates that the Supreme Council shall have no jurisdiction in the administration of the college," the statement by the three members of the governing body read.

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 per cent weightage only because the interviews were conducted solely by the teachers of the college, the statement said.

"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. In the meeting of the governing body held on March 14, no such decision had been announced by the principal," the statement claimed.

The teachers alleged the decision was "in violation of the powers of both the Governing Body as well as the Staff Council".

"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 statement said.

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

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 16:16 IST