St.Stephen’s principal Valson Thampu banned a student run e-zine following the magazine’s pulication of the principal’s interview without his permission. The e-zine, which was started by four philosophy students of the college, went live on March 7 and registered over 2000 hits on an interview of the principal. The principal, banning the e-zine for not seeking clearance for the issue, has also constituted a one member discipline committee to look into the matter. The publication is to remain suspended till July 2015.
“We had not sought any permission from the administration before starting the weekly but we did inform the principal that we are launching such an e-zine. No objections were raised then. He even agreed for an interview and ‘self-appointed’ himself as the Staff Advisor for the weekly,” one of the founding members of the magazine was quoted by NDTV. The member further claims that a transcript of the interview was sent to the principal for approval, but as a result of no response, the interview was published.
Valson Thampu clarified his stand in detail earlier this month in a post, titled “St. Stephen’s and freedom of thought – What I wish I did not have to write”, on the college’s website. The Principal challenged the statement given by a founder of the weekly by writing that he had emphatically told the founders that printing his interview in the e-zine without his clearance would invite action. Thampu also shared a transcript of an e-mail sent by the founders to him unaffiliating themselves from the act of contacting the media when the student-founders “got cheated” by an alumnus, as the Principal’s post read.
Many members of the ‘Association of Old Stephanians’ call this act an assault on the freedom of expression on the internet, which was recently safeguarded when Section 66A of the IT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court. S Y Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India and an alumnus of the college, has come up vocally against the move which threatens the essence of the institution which is known for its liberal and conducive environment. He has written a letter to the principal asking him to reconsider his decision. Mr. Quraishi has also forwarded the letter to the Delhi Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin. The founding members say that they are yet to be questioned by the college authorities.
Image credits: Prato9x, Flickr