No council in 11 yrs, Jamia Millia Islamia calls for polls amid uproar

Written by Aranya Shankar | Published:March 22, 2017 6:00 am

The Jamia Millia Islamia University, which has not held student union elections since 2006 over allegations by the university that student representatives had started interfering in administrative work, plans to have elections for a Jamia Student Council (JSC) this year — albeit only for class representatives. The administration’s move, which has been severely criticised by students, states that only class representatives (CRs) can contest for the main offices — president, vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary. There are two CRs per department — one to be elected through a secret ballot, and the other is the class topper. Also, it is only CRs who will be allowed to vote in these elections.

The elections were supposed to be held on March 27, but after strong opposition from various student activists over the council being a “dummy union” having no “real power and autonomy”, the administration has put the elections on hold. While student unions in other universities such as DU and JNU are independent bodies, the JSC will have a ‘Patron’ (vice-chancellor) who will have the power to even dissolve the JSC, and any activity to be organised by the JSC has to have the prior approval of university authorities.

According to the constitution drafted on March 10, elections would be an annual affair, with the Executive Committee of the JSC holding office till October 31 every year. The posts of VP and Joint Secretary are reserved for female students. Arguing that such a council had “bewildered” students, a delegation of activists from Left-leaning AISA and AISF, to AAP-backed CYSS and even the Congress’ NSUI, submitted a memorandum to the V-C Tuesday, with signatures of 3,500 students.

“This Students’ Council is unconstitutional, and against the democratic right of approximately 17,000 students of the university. We the students of JMI, from time to time, have been requesting the administration to restore students’ union, which would work as a competent body to address the grievances of the students’ fraternity. But keeping our request aside, the administration has come up with a puppet and incompetent form of body,” the memorandum read. DSW Tasneem Meenai said, “The Constitution of JSC was a university regulation, approved by the Executive Council. However, since students had some grievances, we have put the elections on hold. We will be legally vetting the case, and find out what can be done on student representation.”

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