Punjab and Haryana High Court order shows sex is still a sin for Indian girls
The Punjab and Haryana High Court | Commons
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Ruling seeks to clarify confusion surrounding Lyngdoh panel guideline that those who have been ‘tried and/or convicted’ are not eligible to contest student polls.

Chandigarh: A candidate doesn’t have to be convicted to be barred from contesting student union elections — a trial on criminal charges is enough, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has said.

The ruling was a clarification on the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee, which was formed on the Supreme Court’s instruction in 2006 to reform student polls.

The high court order is a significant boost to the decriminalisation of student politics across the country as the Supreme Court has directed the implementation of the Lyngdoh Committee’s guidelines in universities all over India.

The clarification came on a writ petition filed by a member of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress student affiliate, who had been barred by Panjab University, Chandigarh, from contesting Thursday’s student elections because he is on trial for violence.

Sachin Galav, who has been charged with voluntarily causing grievous hurt, was in the running to be student council president.

Also read: Congress students’ wing NSUI makes Jio’s eminence tag an election issue in DU polls

Trial vs conviction

According to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, candidates who have been “tried and/or convicted” are not eligible to contest elections. The university had sought legal opinion on Galav’s case, and arrived at the conclusion that the rule also applied to candidates on trial, not just on those who had been on trial and convicted.

Galav, a second-year master’s student at the Centre for Women Studies, challenged the university’s decision in the high court. He argued that the word “trial” in the Lyngdoh panel recommendation refers to a trial that had concluded in a conviction.

Also read: Student elections in Punjab after 34 years. But little will change if Chandigarh is a role model

Declaring the verdict Wednesday after a three-hour hearing, Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, upheld the university’s interpretation.

Citing a 2014 judgment issued by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Jain held that a criminal trial commences when charges are framed against an accused.

If a trial ends in acquittal, Justice Jain added, there is no question of disqualification. However, if the trial is underway, he said, the candidate stands barred.

Thousands vote today

The Panjab University election will see the usual players, the NSUI and the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) of the RSS, contesting for four seats. While the NSUI is going solo, the ABVP has the support of two other outfits, Students for PU (SFPU) and the Haryana Students Association (HAS).

Also read: All India Students’ Association wants CCTV cameras in DU, not in JNU

Other participants include the Students’ Organisation of India (SOI), backed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is contesting with the Indian National Lok Dal’s Indian National Student Organisation, the Indian Students Association, and the Himachal Students Union.

Currently, three out of the four seats of the council are held by the NSUI. Around 15,300 students are expected to cast their vote in Thursday’s election.

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