The Telegraph
Monday , November 30 , 2015

Church backs Stephen's rejig

New Delhi, Nov. 29 (PTI): The Church of North India has defended a controversial move to amend the constitution of St. Stephen's College that is likely to vest principal Valson Thampu and the clergy with sweeping powers.

CNI general secretary Alwan Masih has claimed the proposed changes were for the "benefit" of the institution.

"The move has been well deliberated that the constitution needs to be amended but it is not just to empower the Church or the principal. It is only in benefit of the institution and the students," he said.

"What is wrong if more institutions like St. Stephen's come up under the same umbrella? They will share the legacy of the existing college and cater to more students. Similarly, what is wrong if the principal is granted more powers? He will work in benefit of the institution only."

Thampu, due to retire next February, has come up with a draft amendment proposing that the principal be empowered to take disciplinary action against students or staff irrespective of the governing body's opinion.

He has also called for giving the CNI a major say in the functioning of the college, including empowering the supreme council to appoint faculty and conduct admissions, and recasting the governing body.

The amendment also proposes to replace St. Stephen's College Trust, which currently runs the college, with a St. Stephen's Educational Society that will have the power to establish private institutions across the country.

Masih, also a member of the governing body that will decide the issue in a meeting tomorrow, said: "If there are apprehensions about the amendments, all will be discussed during the meeting and amendments will be passed only if there is majority."

This is not the first time that the CNI has come out in Thampu's support. It had backed him in July, amid demands for his resignation over allegations that he was shielding a professor accused of molesting a research scholar.

No consultations on the amendments have been held with Delhi University and the UGC, which provides 95 per cent funding to the institution. The rest of the funds come from the CNI-controlled St. Stephen's Trust.

St. Stephen's teachers have petitioned the governing body to defer the amendments till Thampu retires.

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