Youth for Equality, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Friday, October 24, 2008

SC stays JNU student polls

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NEW DELHI:: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the November 3 students' union elections in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and asked its vice-chancellor why contempt proceedings not be initiated against him for allowing overage and repeat candidates to file nomination papers in breach of its directions.
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In fact, the elections may not take place at all this year as the apex court fixed further hearing on the matter for December 8, while asking the university's V-C and registrar to file their responses by then.
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But, an important clarification followed, when the Bench was told by counsel M L Lahoty, appearing for Youth for Equality (YFE), that many students were ready to conduct the elections as per the guidelines laid down by the Lyngdoh committee.
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The Bench said: "If fresh elections to JNUSU are held in line with the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee, there shall not be any bar on it."
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Right at the beginning of the proceedings, amicus curiae and additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam alleged that most of the candidates were either over 28 years old or seeking re-election, both banned by the apex court in its September 22, 2006, directions, which incorporated the Lyngdoh committee's stringent recommendations to stop money and muscle power in polls for students' bodies in colleges and universities.
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A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and M K Sharma said it would not brook even the slightest breach of the elaborate guidelines issued for college and university students' body elections. "Anyone trying to overreach the orders of the court in any manner would be liable for contempt of court," it said.
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"Since JNU Students Union elections are being held contrary to the mandate of the Supreme Court, it is prima facie contempt of court. Issue notice to the vice-chancellor and the registrar of JNU to show cause why action for contempt be not taken against them for violating the SC orders. Meanwhile, the elections for JNUSU shall remain stayed," the court ordered posting the matter for further hearing on December 8.
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Appearing for JNUSU, counsel Sanjay Parikh said that the election process adopted for the students body in the prestigious university was unique and had been a role model for others. Here the students body itself conducts the elections without any interference from outside, he said.
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Amicus curiae Subramaniam also brought to the court's notice the incident of vandalism at Samant Chandrasekhar College at Puri in Orissa by students when they were told to fall in line with the apex court's 2006 order.
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"The overage candidates commanded a mob of students and went on the rampage, set the laboratory on fire and assaulted the teaching staff," he told the Bench, which lost no time in issuing notice to the college principal asking him whether steps have been taken to expel the delinquent students.
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It also directed the superintendent of police, Puri, to immediately register criminal cases against the students who indulged in vandalism at the college and take action in accordance with law.
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