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Controversy dogs Stephen’s head again

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2009 00:29 IST
Ritika Chopra
Ritika Chopra
Hindustan Times
Controversy dogs Stephen’s head again

The ghost of the qualification controversy, it seems, is back to haunt Valson Thampu.

Eight-and-half months after his appointment as St. Stephen’s College principal, an RTI application filed with the Delhi University has led to an intriguing revelation.

For starters, the varsity has not approved his appointment yet.

And intriguingly, the response to the application —filed by a former Stephanian and now an IAS officer —implies that Thampu does not have relevant qualification to head a college.

The response — a copy of which is with Hindustan Times — states that a candidate eligible for the post of principal of any college should have cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET).

Teachers who have a PhD completed by 2002 or an MPhil completed by 1993 in the “concerned subject” (subject taught in college) are exempted from NET.

Thampu has not cleared NET and doesn’t qualify for exemption; the latter confirmed by the college’s response (a copy is with HT) to the application. He has a Phd in Theology from Allahabad Agricultural Institute. The subject is not taught at St. Stephen’s.

Last year, Thampu had resigned as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) after doubts were raised on the veracity of his qualification.

There were allegations to the effect that he had merely reproduced portions of his books written earlier into the thesis submitted to the institute.

Though the college — a minority institution — has the right to appoint its principal without the varsity’s interference, it had recently given an undertaking before the High Court to comply with the
qualification criteria of DU’s ordinance.

“I am not conversant with what the current status is regarding the appointment's approval,” said Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental.

“However, there is ambiguity on how a minority institution chooses its head. Is it on the basis of merit or its faith?”
Quashing doubts over his eligibility as principal, Thampu said, “The Supreme Council had informed Delhi University of my appointment and sent all the relevant documents.”

“If they really had not approved my appointment, then how could the university fix my pay scale?” Dean of Colleges Nayanjot Lahiri confirmed that Thampu’s pay scale was indeed fixed by the varsity.

However, neither the Vice-Chancellor nor the Dean of Colleges could say why the appointment has not been formally approved and whether his qualification actually falls short of meeting the university criteria as implied by the RTI response.

“The university's reply is ill-conceived. In fact I have a written clarification from the University Grants Commission which states that the principal only needs to have a Phd and not necessarily in a subject taught in college,” added Thampu.

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