The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tough nut for campus clean-up

New Delhi, Dec. 5: The Supreme Court today sought the expertise of either J.M. Lyngdoh or T.S. Krishnamurthy in ridding campus elections of “money and muscle power”.

It also floated the suggestion of barring “politically-affiliated” students’ bodies ' such as the SFI, ABVP and Chhatra Parishad ' from contesting.

A two-judge bench directed the Centre to seek the “consent” of either of the previous two chief election commissioners to head a committee to “set guidelines (for) and regulate” students’ union elections in all colleges and universities in India.

The court had passed an interim order on September 19 suggesting such a committee be formed. Today, it asked the government to inform it within a week who would head the panel, Lyngdoh or Krishnamurthy.

Both were known as tough poll panel bosses, with Lyngdoh having earned applause for the way he had tackled Narendra Modi during the Gujarat polls.

The guidelines will focus on “qualifications and disqualifications of candidates, funding of elections and ceiling on expenses”. Most important of all, it will decide “whether students with political affiliations' should be disqualified (from contesting)”.

If this suggestion is accepted, groups like the BJP-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Congress-supported National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the CPM-backed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) will be shut out from campus elections.

“We have to fix some eligibility criteria for (student) candidates,” the court said. “They (student leaders) go on staying in the same institution taking up different courses... not for studies but for some other obvious reason (politics).”

The case was triggered by a Kerala University move to reform campus elections, but the judges made it clear their order would apply to campuses across the nation.

The university had issued guidelines such as:

• Only class toppers would be eligible for the union chief’s post

• The executive committee must have an SC/ST student as member

• The focus of union activities must shift from politics to studies and arts, sports, music, etc.

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