The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cash, age and poster bar in student polls

• No funds from political parties.

• Expenditure ceiling Rs 5,000 for each candidate.

• Age limit of 22, 25 and 28 for
undergrads, PG students and
research scholars.

• At least 75 per cent attendance.

New Delhi, Sept. 22: Party money, overage student dadas, printed posters — the Supreme Court today banished these familiar features from campus polls across the country.

The interim order bans a student contesting a college or university election from receiving funds from political parties and fixes a Rs 5,000 ceiling on his expenditure. A candidate can accept “voluntary contributions” from other students, though.

The court has also made clear who can contest and who cannot, accepting most recommendations by the J.M. Lyngdoh committee, formed to suggest ways of cleaning up student elections.

It has set upper age limits: 22 for undergraduates, 25 for those doing postgraduate courses, and 28 for research scholars.

Candidates must show 75 per cent attendance in class and mustn’t “have any academic arrears” in the year of election.

For instance, a third-year student who hasn’t cleared all his second-year subjects is out. So is any student tried for any criminal offence. Also, a student can contest for the post of an office-bearer only once.

No printed material — poster or pamphlet — can be used for canvassing, nor can any vehicle or animal, even in universities spread across kilometres. “Hand-made” posters are allowed — within the expenditure limit — but candidates have a “duty” to clean up within 48 hours of the polls.

Processions and public meetings outside campus are banned. Any violation can lead to cancellation of a candidate’s election as well as disciplinary action.

The interim order has come into force. The final order will come after the court has heard all parties concerned, who must file their responses within four weeks.

NSUI and ABVP activists, who heavily depend on money from their parent organisations, the Congress and the BJP, were unhappy with the ban on political funds. But the CPM-backed SFI, whose leaders said they raise their own funds, were happy at their rivals’ discomfiture.

Many in the NSUI and ABVP, however, said the ban would remain on paper — keeping track of a candidate’s expenditure would be difficult.

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