As Delhi University shifts to election mode to elect a new students’ union, left-leaning students’ group All India Students’ Association (AISA) and two DU students approached the Delhi High Court on Monday, alleging that candidates using prefixes, such as ‘AAA’, ‘A.A.’, to their names were violating Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
In the petition filed against the Chief Election Officer of DU, AISA said these Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) candidates were getting “unfair advantage” in the elections as their names appeared on the top of the list of the candidates.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
According to the petitioner, the allotment of a ballot number determines the position of a particular candidate on the electronic voting machine.
The petition read, “Candidates whose names appear first in the list of candidates on the EVM stand a higher chance of winning as there exists a significant number of voters who, being either unsure of whom they wish to vote for or being unaware of the relative merits or demerits of the various candidates, vote for the candidate whose name appears on the top of the list by default. Many of the voters are interested only in the college elections and are disinterested in the university-level elections (DUSU). This is also a widely-held perception prevailing among the contesting candidates.”
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“Such an unfair advantage results in elections being conducted in an unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory manner contrary to the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the petition said.
The petition further claimed that of 47,000 – 50,000 votes, 5,000-7,000 votes would be cast in favour of such candidates.
“Realising this, many of the candidates are having their names changed legally to introduce the alphabets “A” or “a” before their real or original name. This causes their names to come on the top of the list. The legal procedure to change the name is initiated before the elections and, after the elections, persons go back to their original name by following the same legal procedure for change of name,” the petition stated.
When contacted, the Chief Election Officer for DUSU polls, D S Rawat, said he had not received any official document on the case.
“I have only heard about this from another person. But if such a petition has been filed in the court, we will follow the High Court’s order on the matter. This trend of using such prefixes has been in place for a long time. The students take out advertisements in newspapers and get their name changed. We don’t know if it is illegal,” Rawat said.