Even as Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde had been making efforts for a comeback of student union elections in universities and affiliated colleges in the state, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to all universities to implement the Lyngdoh committee report, which had said “universities and colleges must conduct elections for student representative bodies”.
It has sought a report by September 18 on conducting elections to student bodies.
Following a Supreme Court order, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of JM Lyngdoh to make recommendations on issues related to student bodies and student union election in institutions of higher education.
The committee submitted its report on May 26, 2006, and the Supreme Court, in its order dated September 22, 2006, directed that the recommendations be implemented and followed by all colleges and universities for student elections.
A key recommendation was disassociation of student elections and student representation from political parties.
“…ensure that the orders of the Supreme Court are implemented in your university and affiliated colleges and compliance be reported to the UGC by September 18. In the event of non-availability of student union elections, the same may also be informed,” says the recent UGC letter.
Student union elections in Maharashtra were banned in early 1990s following violent incidents and law and order problems. In July this year, Tawde met stakeholders to take stock of the situation and according to sources, it was discussed that student elections could be held from next academic year.
According to officials at the Mumbai University, the 15-member student council is selected through a process of nomination. Teachers nominate class representatives, who elect a general secretary and all nomination forms are subsequently sent to the university’s director of department of students’ welfare. The latter selects 15 members and of them, two are elected as president and secretary.
“Student organisations have been demanding for long that elections be reintroduced. Consultations with stakeholders have been initiated. To bring back elections on college campuses in the state, we will need to amend the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994,” said a government official.