New Delhi: Notwithstanding strict laws against defacement of public places, posters of student leaders often backed by major political parties can be seen in subways, on flyovers, overbridges and walls across the capital in run-up to Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election.
According to police officials, over 60 FIRs have been registered so far against candidates and others affiliated to various student outfits for defacement of public property, but the candidates continue to openly flout the rules.
"We promote paperless campaigning and even if students have to use posters they have to be handmade. We have also demarcated a special area for these posters known as 'Wall of Democracy'. But the candidates and parties do not pay heed to the rules," DS Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner for DUSU polls, told PTI.
Among the rules that govern students' union elections is the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 2007, which states that anyone who "defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material, except for purposes of indicating the name of the property owner, shall be punished".
The act further states that the guilty "shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to Rs 50,000, or with both".
"As per the Lyngdoh Committee rules, the candidates cannot post any printed poster and the Defacement Act does not permit them to paste posters on walls. The rules are being openly flouted. But since the defacement matter comes under purview of Delhi Police, the varsity cannot do anything about it," Rawat said.
"We have had couple of meetings with Delhi police officials who are conducting special drives to check these incidents and we will take strict action against those found flouting rules by the police," he added.
"A total of 60 FIRs have been registered against individuals including those from ABVP, NSUI, CYSS and Independent candidates contesting for forthcoming DUSU elections.
"Police has also requested students, groups and candidates not to indulge in sticking posters, installing hoardings and wall writing on public property as it is contravention to the Delhi Defacement Property Act," a senior police official said.
DUSU is the representative body of the students from most colleges and faculties. Apart from DUSU, which is an umbrella council, each college also has its own students' union for which they hold separate elections.
The elections for the student body are scheduled for September 11 and the students' wings of various political parties have intensified their campaign.
Last year, the DUSU polls were swept by BJP-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) trouncing Congress' National Students' Union of India (NSUI) to bag all four positions.
This year, the DUSU polls are set to witness a triangular contest with AAP's youth wing Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) making its debut.
While CYSS has already announced its candidates for the polls, other parties are yet to declare their nominees. The nomination process for the polls ends on September 2.