The elections for JNU’s gender panel, dealing with complaints of sexual harassment, which have been delayed by a year are likely to be postponed to the next academic session following the ongoing turbulence on campus. The election to the post of student representatives of Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) are conducted in April every year. However, the polls could not be held last time as the sedition row leading to arrest of three students sparked a series of controversies on the campus.
“We have been considering the conduct of the GSCASH elections for few months as it is a very crucial body but some or the other issue kept cropping up. We are not sure when they can be conducted next, it will have to be decided during a union meeting,” Mohit Pandey, President of JNU Students Union (JNUSU) said. The current academic session will come to an end in few weeks followed by examination in May. Hence, the polls are likely to be conducted in the next session only.
Earlier, the election to GSCASH would coincide with the JNUSU polls. However, to maintain the sanctity of the gender panel as a non-political body, it was decided three years ago to hold the two polls separately. Though the election is not contested on the basis of organisation’s or a candidate’s political ideology, most of the candidates are supported by organisations within the campus.
GSCASH, which works as an autonomous body, was constituted in 1999. Its three major functions are gender sensitisation and orientation, crisis management and mediation, and formal enquiry and redressal. The panel plays a crucial role as the university has received maximum number of sexual harassment complaints by any educational institution in Delhi in the last two years.
As per the norms, the students’ union is supposed to approach the administration proposing the conduct of elections following which a date is decided for the same. Like the union polls, the entire process is managed by the students only. Some of the issues which have kept students and the JNU administration at loggerheads in recent months include the row over the February 9 event last year in which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised, a student going missing from campus, blocking of degrees of a few students for allegedly violating discipline norms, banning protests at varsity’s administration block and suspension of students for allegedly disrupting a council meeting.