Demand for student union grows stronger in Jamia, protests force University to postpone Student Council elections

By Raqib Hameed Naik,

New Delhi: In the second week of March, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) drafted a constitution to hold an election for Jamia Student Council (JSC) instead of Jamia Student union, which was banned way back in 2006.

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The draft mooted for a council of students, which would include only class representatives (CR), one elected and one selected from each course and who will only have the power to nominate the office bearers and vote.

The university had even issued the schedule for the election in the third week of March according to which polling was supposed to take place on March 30.

However, as the news of council spread in the campus, hundreds of students started protesting against the move and termed it as the “dummy body”. The student instead demanded a democratic student union instead of the proposed student council. The protest reached the corridors of Vice Chancellor of the university after which he was forced to postpone the proposed elections.

The protesting students even put graffiti, “Right to union, Long Live” on the student union hall outside the central canteen.

The protests have ensued a silent debate among students on the campus who termed the move of university authorities as anti-democratic.

“The class representative will themselves be fighting elections and voting, while common students haven’t been given the right to vote. The university is only trying to stifle voices of the students by not giving them freedom to fight and participate in the elections,” said Sameer Hussain, who is studying in Department of Urdu, Jamia Millia Islamia.

“There should be a student union which can independently communicate student grievances with the university authorities,” he added.

As per the drafted constitution, for organizing any activity, the student council has to take permission from the university officials and will have vice chancellor as patron. The patron has been given enormous power, even to dissolve the council revealing the level of administrative interference in the work of the council.

Students protesting against Jamia Student Council inside the university campus

“The administrative interference in the working of Council will make it ineffective and giving the voting rights to CRs is discriminatory. Every student of Jamia should have a say in who should represent them,” said Jamal Ahmed, who is studying in Department of Political Science, JMI.

Until 2006, JMI used to have student union which the university dissolved without giving a reason. Later the ban was attributed to “undue interference” of the union in the administrative affairs of the university.

In the year 2011, a former student of JMI had moved to the Delhi High Court seeking to quash the 2006 decision of the central university to ban elections to the students union. Petitioner Ikrar Khan had alleged that it was unreasonable on the part of the university to ban the election from March 2006.

He had said that the authorities had continued to collect a union fee of Rs.50 per student despite there being no elections in the last few years.

Later in 2012, the JMI informed the Delhi High Court that an experimental attempt could be made for holding elections to the students’ union, but it was never attempted.

As the already issued notification for the student council stays in limbo, the protesting students have also submitted a memorandum with 3, 500 students signature seeking the holding of union elections instead of the council one.

Dr. Saima Saeed, the Media spokesperson of JMI told, “It is a matter of sub judice. The students have made their representations and we are already looking into it.”

“Everything is not under the control of the university,” she added.