The Election Commission of India (ECI) has informed the Supreme Court that the electronic voting machines (EVM) are ‘non-tamperable’, owing to technological measures and strict administrative and security procedures designed by the commission.
“The electronic voting machines are non-tamperable, both due to technological measures and also due to strict administrative and security procedures laid out by ECI, whereby no access to EVM/VVPAT is allowed to any unauthorised person. Hence, these are protected from any tampering or manipulation whether before the polls, or during the polls, or after the polls, in storage or transportation from manufacturer to the state or district or vice versa, or when transported from one state to another,” the EC told the SC in an affidavit.
NGO seeks verification of VVPAT slips
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by the Association for Democratic Reforms, seeking complete verification of EVM data against voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) records.
However, the EC told the Apex court that counting all VVPAT paper slips manually, as suggested, would be labour and time-intensive and prone to ‘human error’ and ‘mischief’.
“Manual counting of this scale will also be prone to human error and mischief, leaving aside the drudgery of days of counting small slips of paper potent with possibilities of mischievous false narratives on social media, round after round of counting across the country…The petition is essentially suggesting going back to paper ballot system,” the EC stated.
Not a fundamental right
The petitioner has also asked for a declaration by the court that every voter has the fundamental right to verify that their vote has been ‘recorded as cast’ and ‘counted as recorded’, praying for directions to affect appropriate changes to enforce this ‘fundamental right’.
However, the ECI told the SC that no such fundamental right exists.
In July, the SC had voiced its reservations about the plea, and Justice Khanna asked Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was representing ADR, whether the petitioner-association was being overly suspicious.
No urgency in hearing: SC
On Wednesday, when the plea came up for hearing, Advocate Bhushan submitted that there was an urgency as elections are coming up.
“Mr Prashant Bhushan, how many times will this issue be raised? Every six months, this issue is freshly raised. There is no urgency in this. Let it come up in due course,” the SC said, adjourning the hearing until November.
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