Supreme Court orders the varsity to conduct student polls

The Benaras Hindu University Students’ Council may finally become a reality after the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the university to conduct student elections, but in accordance with the Allahabad High Court orders.

A three-member Bench, comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S. S. Nijjar and Justice J. Chamleshwar, rejected Benaras Hindu University’s plea and upheld the verdict of the High Court regarding the student elections.

The university had moved the Supreme Court seeking the cancellation of the Allahabad High Court order on September 20, which struck down ordinances containing provisions that enabled the university’s faculty members, including the vice-chancellor and dean, to hold key posts in the university’s student council. The council elections were also put on hold, a day before they were scheduled to have been held.

The High Court order was passed on a writ filed by two students, Vikash Singh and Praveen Kumar Singh. The students had called for changes in the rules of the elections, demanding direct elections to the posts of president, vice-president and general secretary. They cited that the university’s ordinance was contrary to the proposals of the Lyngdoh committee.

The Benaras Hindu University students’ union had been dissolved in 1997 after violence on campus during the election process, which left two students dead. In October 2007, the Benaras Hindu University Students’ Council came into existence. The Supreme Court’s order was greeted with much elation on the campus, with students distributing sweets.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Alok Ranjan Singh said a healthy student council would give the students a much-needed voice and they were willing to work towards it. However, a section of the student body expressed its apprehension regarding the union’s violent past.

Saurabh Tiwari, a senior law student, said, “We welcome the order of the Supreme Court, but we also fear that the elections might lead to indiscipline on the campus and disruption of the curriculum. Maintaining peace should be our priority.” The Dean of Students’ Welfare couldn’t be reached for comment.