Published: 17th October 2019
Why is JNU calling its Students' Union illegal? Answer: Not paying GST & legal trouble
The 2018-19 Union cabinet was not notified because their accounts didn't factor in GST, neither did the current cabinet. The Dean says to prevent misuse he needed to lock it
The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University have been protesting to stop the administration from locking their union room for the past two days and are currently on an indefinite sit-in in front of the JNU Students' Union room at the Students' Activity Centre.
But why did the Dean of Students, Umesh Kadam, put out such a notice?
The Dean said that the previous Students' Union was not notified as they did not submit their list of expenditure properly after the election. Last October, Kadam had sent out a notice that said that bills submitted by the four of the winners did not factor in the GST and was thus not in the proper format recommended by the Lyngdoh Committee Regulations (LCR).
What does the LCR say?
The LCR says that candidates should submit the audited accounts of their election expenditure within two weeks of the declaration of results. Since it was issued in 2012, GST wasn't around to be a factor at that point, since it was introduced in 2017. And for this, the entire JNUSU cabinet was not 'notified' or recognised for the entire year and was also not allowed into Academic Council meetings.
The current JNUSU cabinet is also not 'notified' as there is an ongoing case at the Delhi High Court based on an appeal by two students who said that the LCR was violated in the 2019 JNUSU elections. These two are the issues that prompted the notice from the Dean on October 15. Kadam said that the 2018-19 cabinet was not notified and "the matter is still sub judice" while the 2019-20 cabinet has also not been notified yet. Technically there is no Union to use the room. "To prevent the misuse of University property" Kadam ordered the room be locked and then handed over to the JNUSU once the new cabinet is notified.
Former JNUSU President N Sai Balaji said that the notice itself is illegal, "If there was any violation that was made then the Grievance Redressal Committee should be the one saying so, not the Dean of Students." JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh who won the elections recently said that the JNU administration has absolutely no right to shut down the office. "If they don't withdraw the notice, then we will take it forward legally but we will not budge from here either," she said. Aishe also added that several spaces on campus that were usually used for debate, dialogue and meetings have been restricted from usage and the students were heavily dependent on the office for their activities.