St Stephen College, Delhi University
St Stephen College, Delhi University

St. Stephen's ropes in church for admissions, teachers condemn move as 'unconstitutional'

Sahil Pandey | Updated: May 15, 2019 04:36 IST

By Sahil Pandey
New Delhi [India], May 15 (ANI): In a first in the history of Delhi University's St Stephen's College, its panel to interview students for undergraduate admissions this year will include one member of the college's Supreme Council, which comprises six members of the Church of North India (CNI)
The decision taken in a meeting of college's Staff Council has irked college teachers who have condemned the decision calling it as "illegal and unacademic".
According to teachers, 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.
Professor Nandita Narain told ANI that the decision will diminish the merit of admissions.
In view of the above-mentioned contentions, the teachers have urged authorities to withdraw the decision.
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 separate admission process with interviews. In our interviews, teachers conduct the interviewing process."
"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."
Siddharth Yadav, State Secretary, ABVP Delhi said: "An inclusion of a member of a council i.e. father of a church into the admission process is totally arbitrary. There is no requirement for it. ABVP and DUSU will condemn including members on a religious basis in the admission committee. We demand that they should roll back the decision."
The Supreme Council is a subset of 6 members of the Governing Body (Managing Committee) all members of the Church of North India. The chairperson of both the Council and Governing Body is the Bishop of Delhi and Member Secretary of both is the principal.
According to the St Stephen College's constitution, the supreme council will control 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. It shall have no jurisdiction over the administration of the college. (ANI)