The Governing Body (GB) of St Stephen’s College Monday approved amendments to the 102-year-old college constitution prescribed by Principal Valson Thampu. The move came even as eight of the 18 GB members stayed away from the meet, including the principal’s nominee former Justice Manmohan Sarin.
The final decision on the amendments, however, will be taken in a GB meeting that will be held after three months. As per the constitution, the amendments have to be discussed in two meetings held at a gap of not less than three months, before they can be approved.
If finally passed, the amendments will give increased power to the Church of North India, the Supreme Council and the principal, to determine the functioning of the college. Teachers have been opposing the amendments on various grounds, including the apprehension that it will reduce the powers of the GB.
Thampu announced the decision through a Facebook post Tuesday. Under the heading “St Stephen’s College Governing Body approves the amendments”, Thampu wrote, “At a meeting of the GB… the proposed amendments were considered in elaborate detail… The longest-ever meeting of the GB lasted nearly eight hours…The second session… will be held three months from now.”
GB member Sudhir Joseph confirmed that the decision to approve the amendments was taken “unanimously”. “The final call will be taken in the next meeting. Every point was combed through carefully and teachers’ apprehensions were addressed,” he said.
Dismissing the point cited by opponents — that the constitution was passed without the presence of the quorum — Joseph said with only 15 active members, the quorum was complete. “Of the 15 filled positions, 10 were present, so it is not illegal. Even if the numbers remain the same in the next meeting, the constitution would be considered legally passed,” he said.
Of the 18 posts in the GB, three are lying vacant as the college does not have a vice-principal as well as two elected teacher representatives. Of the remaining 15, five members stayed away — two teacher representatives selected through rotation, two university representatives and the principal’s nominee.
Former Justice Sarin, said teachers were “important stakeholders” of the college and any GB meeting held in their absence was “injustice”. “I have not been attending GB meetings for two years due to personal reasons. If I had gone, mine would be an isolated voice…,” he said.