Was Valson Thampu’s appointment as principal of St. Stephen’s College fixed?
A series of emails between Thampu, the college’s former legal counselor Sunil Mathews, Supreme Council member Enos Das Pradhan and Supreme Council chairman Bishop Sunil K. Singh indicate so. The Supreme Council is the college’s highest decision-making body. Singh and Pradhan were members of the selection committee.
Some of the emails, copies of which are with Hindustan Times, discuss details of the selection process and have been exchanged between March-September 2008, when Thampu was officially not with the college.
Sources said Thampu was among the 12 candidates vying for the principal’s post and shouldn’t have had anything to do with the process.
In an email (dated: August 7, 2008) to Mathews: “A press conference should be planned... I would like this to be in the CNI Bhavan. Since there is a media advisor, I do not want to interact with the media except in the rarest of situations…”
Sources said this was sent a week before the interviews with the 12 candidates were held.
“Thampu was kept in the loop at every step of the preparation for the appointment and even sent a copy of the post’s advertisement by Mathews (On March 17, 2008) before it was printed in newspapers,” said a source.
Singh did not want to comment on the issue and Thampu claimed his email account was hacked a long time ago and that he did not send the emails.
“How could I have known anything about the appointment when I was no longer associated with the college? I haven’t seen the emails and cannot comment further,” he said.
Acknowledging the emails as genuine, Mathews said, “These contain confidential conversations between two parties and some of them are struck by privilege (that protects communications between attorney and client). I don’t understand how these could have been leaked.”
“Even though he wasn’t the principal then, Valson was in touch with us in his capacity as a priest in the church. However, it was a long time ago and I don’t remember if we ever discussed the appointment,” said Pradhan.
Sources said Thampu’s alleged influence wasn’t just limited to the selection of the principal. He allegedly played an important role in deciding the college’s admission policy for the academic session 2008-09.
In an email (June 6, 2010), he writes: “It is vital to ensure that the seats left vacant by the Christians go to SC/STs. This is essential to break the stronghold of the caste Hindus.”