A Joint Action Committee (JAC) of students, formed to reinstate students’ union elections at Jamia Millia Islamia, has submitted the legal opinion of Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde to the university administration. They have also asked the university to announce the date of elections.
In the communication, Hegde has said that elections in the institute would not violate any High Court order. Students’ union polls at Jamia have been banned since 2006, allegedly because students had started interfering in administrative matters. The university has cited a 2012 writ petition filed in the Delhi High Court to argue that they cannot hold elections till the petitioner withdraws the petition.
However, in his legal opinion to the JAC, Hegde has said, “There is nothing on record to suggest that conducting student elections would violate any order of the honorable court. To the contrary, they would only be in furtherance of the assurances given to the court by JMI, in its affidavit dated July 20… for more than six years after filing of this affidavit, the matter appears not to have proceeded further in the court.”
“Unless there is a specified direction of the court to stop the process, the university must endeavour to fulfil the general directive towards conduct of fair and free elections,” he has said. Hegde told The Indian Express that he was contacted by students “a couple of months ago” and said there was “no injuction against the holding of elections”.
Meeran Haider, a JAC member, who, along with others, had gone on a hunger strike for seven days over the issue, said the legal opinion had been submitted to Dean of Student Welfare. “We ended the strike after the vice-chancellor promised that he will announce the election date if we produce a legal opinion of any senior advocate,” he said.
Jamia media coordinator Saima Saeed said the matter would be looked into when the university reopens on January 16. “He has used the words ‘I have been informed’ many times… which is not enough. We request him to go through all records to give a more sound advice,” she said.