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JNU student elections on hold for code ‘violation’

New Delhi, Oct. 24: The Supreme Court today stayed the November 3 JNU students’ union elections for “prima facie” violating the Lyngdoh committee guidelines on curbing criminalisation of campuses.

Clamping what is possibly the first stay on a university poll since the court accepted the panel’s report in 2006, the judges said JNU could go ahead with the elections if they were held “in accordance with norms”.

Doing so would mean starting the process all over again: fresh nominations would have to be invited and those above the age of 28 shut out. Those who have contested the polls earlier would also have to be barred, according to the Lyngdoh panel’s recommendations.

The court also issued contempt notices to the JNU vice-chancellor and the registrar for having allowed the 2006 and 2007 elections in violation of the guidelines.

Neither official has a role in the elections, which are managed by the JNU election committee, an independent students’ body.

The two have, however, been exempted from personal appearance in court.

The court had accepted the recommendations of the panel, headed by former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh, on September 22, 2006. Today, as it stayed the JNU polls, the court said no institution would be allowed to flout the guidelines.

On Tuesday, amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium had pointed out the alleged violations at JNU. The judges had then issued notices to the university and its students’ union, seeking details of the last two elections and the one due next month.

The JNU students’ union dubbed the stay “the result of a politically motivated attack by the central government”. “The additional solicitor-general’s (Subramanium’s) push for the stay in the court clearly indicates that the central government wanted to act against the elections,” the union said in a statement.

The statement sought to draw a distinction with other universities, saying the JNU polls were “free of financial and muscle power”. “Given the history, staying the polls on a couple of technicalities indicates misplaced concerns,” it said.

The court also took a serious view of Monday’s incidents at Puri’s Samanta Chandra Sekhar Autonomous College, where students protesting against moves to enforce the Lyngdoh panel guidelines in upcoming polls damaged college property.

The judges directed the Puri police superintendent to take action against the students. “No one will be allowed to flout the Lyngdoh committee recommendations,” the bench said.

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