On the day Devansh Mehta, a third-year philosophy student at St Stephen’s College, moved High Court against his suspension, principal Valson Thampu posted a circular on the college notice board, detailing “facts about the indicted student” and blaming the college’s department of philosophy for “sneaking” Mehta’s name “behind the back of the principal” for a good-conduct award.
“The head (of the) department of philosophy did not attend, unlike other heads of department, the meeting at which prizes were to be decided. He, instead, sneaked in Devansh’s name, behind the back of the principal, into the list…Going by the citation, on no counts did the proposed student merit the award,” the notice reads.
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“It is clear that Devansh was picked over more deserving students and this is a serious case of favouritism on the part of his professors. His nomination was kept hidden from me, which is why I could not act sooner,” Thampu said.
The Rai Sahib Banarsi Das Memorial Prize is meant to be awarded to “students of the undergraduate Economics and Philosophy classes who have shown a high standard of personal behaviour and a marked degree of curricular and co-curricular interaction”.
Pointing out that there was an “emphasis” on “high standard of personal behaviour”, the notice says, “Recommending a student who has been indicted for indisciplined behaviour is an insult to the dead person as it is to the living college. This was clear to the Philosophy department. Otherwise, his name would not have been sneaked in.”
Reacting to the allegations, the head of philosophy department Vijay Tankha said, “I am not aware of any notice being put up by the principal, and if that’s the case, I will address his concerns. What happened with Devansh was an unfortunate but minor incident and it has been blown up by the media.”