Delhi HC dismisses PIL against three-year age relaxation to DUSU candidates

 The Delhi High Court has dismissed a public interest litigation against the age relaxation of three years granted to students contesting the upcoming Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, in an order released Wednesday, said the age relaxation served as an inclusive measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enabled a greater number of students to engage in the democratic process.

Petitioner Harish Kumar Gautam alleged that the August 27 notice by the university, which extended the upper age limit for undergraduate students from 22 years to 25 years, and for postgraduate students, from 25 years to 28 years, would result in violence, hooliganism, unauthorised intrusion into academic institutions and the unabated exhibition of financial and muscle power play.

Finding no merit in the petition by the DU alumnus, the court observed there was no demonstrable public interest in the matter and there is an evident lack of a nexus between the supposed detrimental effects of the decision and the issue of age relaxation for the student elections.

“To label this petition as a PIL, is as an abuse of the process of law. The key issue under scrutiny, the relaxation of age limits for election candidates, does not inherently pose any detriment to public interest or the democratic election process,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, said in the order dated September 15.

“Consequently, there is no justifiable ground for this court to intervene in the decision made by the respondent university’s Executive Council. Dismissed,” concluded the court.

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The DUSU elections will be held on September 22 after a gap of four years. The elections were last held in 2019.

The students’ union elections could not be held in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 while possible disruptions to the academic calendar prevented their conduct in 2022.

The court, in its order, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic could have created educational gaps for many students, causing them to exceed the prior age limits for election eligibility, which was a “well-reasoned” rationale to extend the age eligibility.

“No reliable or compelling documentation has been presented to this Court to demonstrate that an alteration in age eligibility would culminate in such negative repercussions,” it said.

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