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Too old to contest elections

SC sends notice to JNU for fielding overaged candidates in union polls, reports Ritika Chopra.

delhi Updated: Oct 23, 2008 00:31 IST
Ritika Chopra

A strongly-orded notice sent by the Supreme Court to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has put a spanner in the works of JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) elections.

Received by the students’ union office on Tuesday, the notice — a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times — states that JNU, despite the orders of the apex court, has been conducting annual elections for the years 2006 and 2007 in contravention of the recommendations of the JM Lyngdoh Committee.

Though several Lyngdoh committee suggestions — such as budget cap of

Rs 5,000 and the use of hand-made posters — are inherent in the student union elections here, two major recommendations regarding maximum age limit (28 for research scholars) and the number of times one can contest for the post of office bearers are not followed by JNUSU.

Taking strong notice of this and the fact that the final list of nominated candidates for the polls dated November 3 include students who have already held office-bearer posts, the apex court has directed the university as well as JNUSU to submit an explanation and put an interim stay on the elections or hold it in accordance with the Lyngdoh recommendations. The hearing is on Friday morning.

If implemented, the Lyngdoh suggestions could lead to the disqualification of more than half of the 12 presidential candidates and many others in the running for the posts of general secretary, joint secretary and vice-president. Most candidatures (including the presidential candidate of parties such as AISA, SFI and NSUI) could be cancelled for either exceeding the age limit of 28 years for research students or for having already contested for the central panel.

“We have constituted an all party committee comprising one members from each party and a few former chairpersons of the election committee to discuss this problem. We have decided to appear before the court on Friday and give an explanation,” said Sharda Prasanna Das, chairperson, JNU election committee.

Most student parties are strongly opposed to implementation of the recommendations saying that it would ruin the unique character of JNUSU elections.

“JNU is a premier research institution and it’s difficult to implement some of the recommendations, especially the age criteria. Here most of the students step into the university at the age of 25. It takes time for one to learn the nitty gritties of student politics. How can the court put an age cap of 28 years of the candidates?” said Mohammad Hafeezur Rahman, an independent presidential candidate, who could face disqualification for exceeding the age limit. Rahman is 30.