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Panjab University (PU) is yet to conduct a periodic review of guidelines for student elections despite repeated demands by student organisations and recommendations by former chief election commissioner James Michael Lyngdoh, who had outlined the guidelines for student council elections in the country in 2006.
In 2005, under the directions of the Supreme Court (SC), the union ministry of human resource development constituted a committee under Lyngdoh to “examine and recommend upon certain aspects of student body and student union election conducted in universities, colleges and other institutions of higher education across India.”
The Lyngdoh Committee submitted the guidelines to the SC on May 26, 2006. On September 22, 2006, the apex court directed that the guidelines be implemented in all educational institutions in the country. Though elections to Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) are guided by the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines, the varsity has not initiated a review of the same.
A report containing the guidelines reads: “All institutions must conduct a review of the student representation mechanism. The first review may be conducted after a period of two years of implementation of the mechanism and the second review may be conducted after the third or fourth year of implementation. The primary objective of these reviews will be to ascertain the success of the representation and election mechanism in each individual institution, so as to decide whether or not to implement a full-fledged election structure.”
However, PU authorities have not taken any initiative to initiate a debate on the guidelines.
The varsity half-heartedly invited student parties to evolve a model code of conduct this year, but did not make any reference to modifying or reviewing the guidelines.
Lyngdoh, who visited PU last year to deliver a colloquium address, said the guidelines should be reviewed from time to time.
Student parties have been opposing various provisions mentioned in the guidelines, including the upper limit of ` 5,000 for election expenditure, mandatory requirement of 75% attendance for those contesting elections, barring elected representatives from seeking reelections.
Stating that the level of inflation had increased over the years, former PUCSC president Chandan Rana asked, “Can somebody fight an election with Rs 5000?”
He added, “Guidelines should be reviewed every now and then so that parties comply with it.”
PU campus incharge of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad Harmanjot Singh felt student parties flouted rules as elections could not be fought by abiding by such impractical guidelines.
He said, “These guidelines are impractical and cannot be followed in letter and spirit. When Lyngdoh himself has been advocating for periodic reviews, why are authorities not initiating them?”
However, dean of student welfare, Navdeep Goyal, said, “We tried to come up with a code of conduct with the help of students this year. But it did not materialise. Those students who are now accusing us of not effecting modifications in the Lyngdoh guidelines are responsible for it. Moreover, other provisions in the guidelines, such as whether institutions can make changes to the guidelines on their own or not, are not clear."