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Won’t recognise Varghese as principal of St Stephen’s: DU

If the university, which holds John’s reappointment illegal, refuses to recognise him as principal, it may stop flow of cash from UGC that accounts for 95 per cent of the college’s funding
Delhi University.
Delhi University.
File photo

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 18.09.22, 03:23 AM

Delhi University has reaffirmed that it will not recognise John Varghese as principal of St Stephen’s and asked the college to act.

If the university, which holds Varghese’s reappointment illegal, refuses to recognise him as principal, it may stop the flow of cash from the UGC that accounts for 95 per cent of the college’s funding.

The university’s ultimatum comes in a September 16 letter from its joint registrar to the chairperson of the college governing body, a copy of it marked to the UGC.

The letter says: “I am directed to request you to follow UGC regulations in true spirit for the appointment of principal in the college and in absence of the same, the university is constrained not to recognise Professor John Varghese as principal of the college (since) his five-year term (has) ended.”

St Stephen’s is governed by a Supreme Council headed by the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi, Church of North India. Two weeks ago, the university had written to the college governing body chairperson that Varghese’s reappointment violated the UGC’s regulations.

Varghese had been appointed principal for five years from March 1, 2016, and was given a second five-year term from March 1, 2021.

A UGC regulation of 2010 laid down a specific procedure for the appointment of principals of minority colleges, which gave the governing body a much bigger say in the nomination of experts to the selection committee. It also stipulated a five-year term for the principal, after which reappointment could take place only through a fresh selection.

In 2014, Delhi University adopted and notified the regulation, which was in force when Varghese was appointed principal in 2016.

In 2018, the UGC regulation was amended to stipulate that the college principal shall be appointed for five years, with a further five-year extension depending on an assessment of his or her performance by a committee appointed by the university.

However, the earlier letter underlined, St Stephen’s had failed to set up a committee to assess Varghese’s performance.

In its reply, the college defended the reappointment citing a Delhi High Court judgment of 2008 that said the university’s rules on the appointment of principals would not apply to St Stephen’s since it is a minority institution.

That ruling related to Clause 7(2) of the university’s Ordinance XVIII of 2008, which required a college governing body to forward to the university a list of applicants for the post of principal for scrutiny by a selection committee. This clause made no specific reference to minority institutions.

Delhi University’s stand is that the subsequent UGC regulations of 2010 and 2018 refer specifically to, and make specific provisions for, minority institutions and therefore apply to them.

After receiving the first letter from the university that held Varghese’s reappointment as illegal, the college had issued a media release on September 2.

It said: “The chairman of the college, through a letter, has clearly and categorically informed the university that it is wrong in its assumption and has put forward facts and operative judgments with respect to minority institutions to prove that the Supreme Council of the college, the appointing authority of the principal, has followed all applicable regulations in the appointment of Prof John Varghese and that he has every legal right to continue as its principal.”

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