After three years, elections to be held in JNU

The polls were suspended in 2008 after SC asked the varsity to adhere to Lyngdoh Committee recommendations

It is great news for the student fraternity of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as their three-year-long fight has finally led to victory, ushering in the elections for the students union of the varsity. The JNU Students Union (JNUSU) had not had its elections for the last three years owing to the violation of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. Since then, the tussle between the students' body represented by senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, amicus curie, appointed by the Supreme Court (SC) and the committee, had been on for a long time. It will now be put to end.

Light at the end of the tunnel: The date for elections will be decided
once the SC resumes its session after October 10. File pic

The University General Body Meeting (UGBM) of the students was held on Monday, which continued well past midnight. The UGBM included student political bodies such as Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Association (AISA), National Students Union of India, among others.    

Subramaniam had offered a five-point relaxation to the university students to conduct the polls. These relaxations were put to vote in front of the student community at the UGBM where the resolution, to accept them and to hold the JNUSU elections on its lines as an interim measure, won. In all, 689 students voted in favour of accepting the relaxations, while 186 opposed it. The date for elections will be decided once the SC resumes its session after October 10.

Students happy
"The elections will be held in the following week or latest by the first week of November 2011. The student community, though not fully satisfied with the relaxations agreed upon, is happy that finally the polls have been revived," said Vismay Basu, vice-president, AISA.  

The relaxations include forming of a grievance redressal mechanism with representation from the administration, students and faculty members. Besides, the age limit to contest has been raised from 28 to 30 years for M.Phil/Ph.D candidates; the rule where candidates, as opposed to contesting only once, will now be allowed to do it twice; 75 per cent attendance will not be a requirement, the clause 'no one with any criminal case/disciplinary action can contest elections' has been changed to 'can contest unless charged or convicted in' for criminal cases.

Photocopies allowed
The restriction on using photocopied or printed material has also been done away with. Now the contestants are allowed to use photocopies along with handwritten material. Also, time constraints for holding of polls within 6-8 weeks of the opening of university have been increased to 12 weeks, while duration of the election process to be completed within 10 days has been relaxed to a time period of 10 days for campaign from the filing of nominations.

Meanwhile, P K Anand, secretary, SFI-JNU, said, "Most students are happy about the fact that students' polls will be held this year after a long struggle. Though, I still feel our elections module as per the JNUSU constitution was the best, yet we have accepted the relaxations offered as will meet the primary need for having a students' union body in the university, which has existed for the last 40 years in JNU."

Past imperfect
The JNUSU elections were suspended after the JNU administration and JNUSU were served a notice from the Supreme Court on October 21, 2008, following a petition by the then additional solicitor general and present solicitor general Gopal Subramanium asking why the Lyngdoh Committee's recommendations were not being adhered to during the students' body election. The notice sought explanation on three issues �lack of adherence to the recommended age limit for contesting elections, candidates involved in acts of indiscipline or those with a criminal record fighting elections, and candidates standing for elections repeatedly. There was a stay on the elections three days after the notice was served.

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