Anil Wilson, former principal of St. Stephen’s, has joined the controversy stemming from the institution’s admission policy.
He has responded to a letter written to the Bishop by faculty member and Maths head of the department Nandita Narain. In the letter, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, Wilson takes on Narain’s claims that the Christian character of the college is decided by the number of Christians studying there.
He writes, “The underlying premise in all that she (Narain) writes is that the Christian character of the college is determined by the number of Christian students in the college. Apart from the fact that the Supreme Court has clearly laid down the indices that determine whether or not an institution is ‘minority’ in character (and student strength is NOT one of them), even if this were legally true, it would be a very dangerous position to take because the following church-
related colleges (with the Christian student strength as given after them) would immediately lose their minority status.”
Wilson then goes on to give figures of the quota percentage in some minority institutions across India, taken from the ‘Directory of Church Related Colleges in India’, published by AIACHE (All India Association For Christian Higher Education) to which all churches and church-related colleges are connected, including St. Stephen’s College.
“The letter was forwarded to me by many of my colleagues and teachers of St Stephen’s asking for my view and I have simply stated my opinion. I don’t want to get into this controversy,” Wilson said.
In an earlier mail sent to the Bishop, three Governing Body members had stated that the Supreme Council did not have the constitutional right to decide the admission policy of St Stephen’s. Narain had countered the letter by writing that the Supreme Council was the final deciding authority as far as the Christian character of the college was concerned.
Narain reacted sharply to Wilson’s response. “It is quiet clear who is behind the spate of letters being sent by governing body members to the Bishop,” Narain said. “I have always maintained that the number of Christian students in an institute does not indicate the minority status in any way. But what I have been saying all along is that the Supreme Council has the legal right to make policy relating to the Christian character of the college and let’s not take it away from them,” Narain said.
Meanwhile, Governing Body and faculty members A.D. Mathur, Malay Neerav and Pankaj K. Mishra mailed their reply to Bishop Sunil K. Singh’s strongly worded email sent on Monday.
Taking note of the Bishop taking umbrage on a number of counts in his email, the detailed four-page reply clarifies right at the outset that “there was no intention of causing any displeasure” and then continues to reiterate the teachers’ stand on the Supreme Council having no jurisdiction over the administration of the College.
The email, a copy of which Hindustan Times has seen, suggests that the issue of determining the relevant body concerned with admission policy “can be sorted out in a meeting of the Governing Body.
In response to the Bishop accusing the concerned teachers launching proxy battles against the management of the college, the faculty members have touched upon the need for the college to avoid controversies and huge expenses incurred in litigation resulting from “decisions that were not in accordance with the constitution.”
It states: “We have been constantly bringing to your notice the fact that despite spending lakhs of rupees on attorneys we have not received sound legal advice…. Our only intention, therefore, was to caution ourselves towards avoiding more controversies and litigation.”