St Stephen’s College principal Tuesday issued “warning letters” to three teacher representatives in the college’s Governing Body (GB), for their “false and irresponsible comments on the Church’s intervention in admissions”.
On Monday, teachers Nandita Narain, N P Ashley and Abhishek Singh condemned the decision by Principal John Varghese in a Staff Council meeting to include one member of the Supreme Council (consisting of six members from the Church of North India) in the admission interview panel.
Responding to the letters, Narain said the three would write to higher authorities and also seek legal remedies. “We will respond to the letter, but we are also planning to write to higher authorities such as the Vice-Chancellor, UGC and MHRD about the mal-administration. We will organise a dharna in college on May 17 and seek legal remedies,” she said.
In the letter, Varghese wrote: “What you falsely claimed as the decision of the principal is in fact the decision of the Supreme Council, which has the sole power to decide on the admission policy as the college is a Christian minority institution. Moreover, the said guidelines were duly reported in the Governing Body (meeting) of March 14 in the presence of teachers’ representatives.”
“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 ethics and the ethos of this institution. You may take this letter as a formal warning…You are advised not to repeat such irresponsible (remarks) in future, failing which the college will be forced to take appropriate action against you,” he wrote.
Supreme Council Chairman, Bishop Warris K Masih, in a statement published on the college website, said the body had taken a decision in its meeting on March 12 to “take steps to ensure that the right of the Christian minority for 50% seats in admissions to the college was safeguarded”. “The Supreme Council has the power to address all matters affecting the Christian character of the college. This in no way would impact the standard of education or of the students who would be admitted to college,” Masih said.
On Monday, when asked about the decision, Masih had told The Indian Express, “The college belongs to us. The teacher representatives have no right to object.” The College constitution states that the Council “shall have no jurisdiction over the administration”, and that it was to look after “religious and moral instruction of students”.