The National Commission for Minority Education Institutions (NCMEI) on Tuesday asked Delhi University to start the process for the appointment of a regular principal at St Stephen’s College, upholding the university’s contention that the appointment of Valson Thampu as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) was “patently illegal.”
DU had said Thampu’s appointment violated the its Ordinance XXIV, that required the principal to have a PhD at the time of appointment. NCMEI ruled that Thampu did not have a doctorate when he was appointed on May 19, 2007.
Thampu said he would challenge the order in court. “It is very surprising that a verdict that affects me in a very substantial way was arrived at without serving notice to me, though I am one of the parties in the case,” he told Hindustan Times. I was given no chance to defend myself, which is a completely betrayal of the process of natural justice. The entire process was carried out behind my back. I will certainly pursue all possible legal remedies.”
Thampu also argued NCMEI had no power to take action against him under the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act. “Under the Act, the Commission can either take suo motu cognizance or a complaint can be made by an institution or someone authorised by it. The person who filed the petition is not even a student of the college. The petition could not have been maintained under Section 11-B of the Act,” he said.
The petitioner in this case was Sheetal P Singh, a lawyer, who also raised doubts about the genuineness of Thampu’s PhD degree. DU said the power to appoint an OSD in a college lay with the vice-chancellor and not with the college governing body.
The governing body and supreme council of St Stephen’s College had appointed Thampu instead of recommending a panel of three names to the DU vice-chancellor as is required under the university ordinance.
“It needs to be highlighted that the governing body of the college has not recommended the panel of at least three names to the V-C for approval of Thampu for appointment as an OSD,” the NCMEI order said.