First, doubts were raised on the legality of the membership of an administrative council member of St Stephen's college, now it is the principal himself whose eligibility is suspect.
Valson Thampu—easily the college's most controversial principal ever—will have to gear up for a fresh round of challenges over doubts raised about his qualification for the top post.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the response of Thampu, Delhi University, UGC and the St Stephen’s Governing Body on a petition filed by the College's Vice Principal M S Frank questioning Thampu's eligibility to be principal.
Basing his petition on RTI replies from the university, Frank contends Thampu does not have relevant qualification to head a college and alleges a "cover up" in relation to his appointment as principal.
As per the documents, Thampu had not cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET) which is mandatory for the post of a principal and had wrongly claimed exemption from it.
Only teachers who have a PhD completed by 2002 or an MPhil completed by 1993 in the “concerned subject” (subject taught in the college) are exempted from NET.
Thampu has a Phd in Theology from Allahabad Agricultural Institute. Theology is not taught at St. Stephen's. Frank also questions the validity of the Phd issued by the Allahabad Institute.
“Even the invalid Phd has been obtained by Thampu abusing his official position as member of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. Otherwise it was not possible or permissible for Thampu to enroll for a Phd. This position has been affirmed by NCMEI in an RTI response", Frank's petition said.
Thampu had been forced to resign as Officer on Special Duty in March 2009 after objections were raised about his PhD qualification but was appointed principal six months later. The college has given an undertaking before the High Court to comply with the qualification criteria of DU's ordinance for the post of Principal.
Reacting to Frank's petition, Thampu's lawyer Romy Chacko said, “Question of validity of Thampu's qualification was considered earlier by statutory bodies like the UGC and Delhi University and both have clearly concluded he fulfils qualifications laid down in the University Ordinance. As per UGC rules, a principal only needs to have a Phd and not necessarily in a subject taught in college.”
Thampu, DU and the St Stephen’s Governing Body are to file their responses to Frank's petition by December 2.