In a first for the top-ranked St Stephen’s College, Delhi, its panel to interview students for undergraduate admissions this year will include one member of the college’s Supreme Council. The Council comprises of six members of the Church of North India (CNI), with the Delhi diocese Bishop as the chairman.
The decision taken in a Staff Council meeting has irked college teachers, who condemned the decision as “illegal and unacademic”. According to them, the decision is in violation of the college’s constitution which categorically states that the Supreme Council shall have no jurisdiction in the administration of the college.
“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,” read a statement issued by the teachers on Monday.
“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,” it added.
The teachers also said that in the meeting of the Governing Body held on March 14, no such decision had been announced by Principal John Varghese. “He 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 statement read.
“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,” it said.
News agency ANI quoted Prof Nandita Narain that the decision will diminish the merit of admissions.
Nandita Narain, Associate Professor said, “The Supreme Court had ruled that St Stephen College is a minority institution. And it has the right to take 50 per cent Christian students. We also have a right to conduct a separate admission process with interviews held by teachers. Earlier there was three-member interview panel including two teachers from the department and the principal or his nominee. In 2013, the principal added a second nominee. In a staff council meeting, he announced that a member of the supreme council will be there in the interview,” she said.
Highlighting that the move has violated college’s constitution, Narain said: “The supreme council is a body of six members of the governing body which are all affiliated with the church of North India. They only have a role to play in religious instructions. But the college constitution does not allow them to have any say in college administration matters. We objected since it violated the constitution.”
St. Stephen’s alumni Bharat Sharma said, “It is incorrect on the part of college administration to allow somebody from a religious background. That person has nothing to do with college academics. It is totally against students and college’s ethos.”
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