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Copy of Memorandum along with attachments submitted to CEC today 10-4-2017

Created on Monday, April 10, 2017 12:00 AM

To,

 

1. The Election Commission of India

    Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road

    New Delhi, Delhi 110001.

   

2. Mr Nazeem Zaidi

    Chief Election Commissioner,

    Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road,

    New Delhi, Delhi 110001

 

3. Mr. Achal Kumar Jyoti

    Election Commissioner

    Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road

     New Delhi, Delhi 110001

 

4. Mr. Om Prakash Rawat,

   Election Commissioner

   Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road

    New Delhi, Delhi 110001

 

 

SUB: REPRESENTATION ON BEHALF OF POLITICAL PARTIES REGARDING THE USE OF ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES (EVM's) IN THE FORTHCOMING ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS.

 

 

1.      We wish to draw your attention to the alleged cases of malfunctioning and tampering of EVM machines that have raised bonafide concerns on the possibility of manipulating the electoral outcome. This, we believe, can undermine the trust the people of India have in the integrity of the electoral process.

 2.     We are also constrained to write to you about the widespread allegations about the tampering of EVM machines in the recently held Assembly elections. These allegations have been raised by almost all opposition parties. Even in the current 242nd Session of Parliament, the Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, have expressed their concern and have observed, that allegations of tampering of EVMs strike at the very foundation of our democratic system.

 3.     While it is trite that all responsible stake holders ought to exercise restraint  and circumspection while making statements about the tampering of EVMs, which have the effect of compromising the integrity of the electoral process.  Nevertheless the recent incidents highlighted by the national and international media, have cast a serious shadow on the integrity of the electoral process in the country which, has otherwise been hailed all over the world as one of  the most transparent and flawless systems. 

 4. As far back as on 08.10.2013, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in had categorically observed that paper trail indispensable requirement of free and fair elections.  The confidence of voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with the introduction of the "paper trail" (2013 10 SCC 500) 

5.      Despite the categorical observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail ('VVPAT') units have not been used comprehensively along with the EVMs in the recently held assembly elections and despite various communications sent by the Election Commission of India to the Government of India and later by the CEC to PMO.  The funds required to procure VVPAT machines for all EVMs before 2019 Lok Sabha Elections have not been granted. The lack of response from the Government and its refusal to provide the funds, raises serious doubts about the intent of the Government and its commitment to the conduct of free and fair elections.

6.      The recent allegations of tampering of EVMs in Ater, District Bhind, Madhya Pradesh to suit BJP further lend credence to this apprehension of the opposition parties. Similar allegations of EVM tampering have been reported in the Maharashtra Local Body Elections, i.e. in Mumbai BMC elections, Municipal Corporations of Pune, Nashik and Amravati. There were specific allegations like the one made by an independent candidate that his family and he voted for himself, however, the EVM showed zero votes. Similar allegations were made by candidates in other constituencies as well, where total votes received by a candidate were more than the total number of votes cast. Malfunction of EVM/VVPAT was also reported yesterday in bypolls in Dholpur District of Rajasthan.

7.      The Report of High Powered Committee of Election Commission in respect of controversy surrounding VVPAT linked EVMs, admittedly discovered in Ater Constituency, District Bhind, MP, overlooks many crucial facets of technology and trust. The summary report, raises more issues of debate of VVPAT linked EVMs rather than solve it or afford a clean chit. This report is a summary disposal of a public complaint made by Indian National Congress(INC) to Election Commission on 1st April 2017 without affording any notice, opportunity to INC and other recognized parties which raised the issue.

8.      After the recent Assembly Elections, there have been a number of cases reported in the recent Assembly By-Elections in the State of Madhya Pradesh (Ater Distt. Bhind) and Rajasthan (Dholpur Distt.) where even the EVMs with VVPAT malfunctioned have raised serious concerns about fairness of the voting process and counting through the EVMs and even with linked with VVPAT

9. These events, have further compounded the doubts being raised about the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Elections, severely damaging the credibility of the electoral process as well as has eroded the confidence, trust and faith of the people in the electoral process.

10.    It is in the paramount interest of all political parties concerned, that these incidents/allegations should be impartially investigated and the truth about the same be placed before the people of India.

11.    It is pertinent to note the experience of many countries especially in Europe and North America where the decision to use the EVMs was taken.  The experience of electronic voting forced these Governments, to rethink the decision and out of eight European countries, that experimented with the electronic voting, six reverted back to paper ballots.  In 2009, the highest court in Germany had held that EVMs are unconstitutional as a voter/common citizen cannot verify the result of can be assured of the transparency of the process reliably, without any specialised knowledge of the subject. 

 

12.    As more States are now opting out of EVMs and returning to Paper Ballots, due to the case of malfunctioning, alleged tempering and technical glitches.  It is important that the sanctity of the electronic process is upheld in letter and spirit.

 

13.    It is imperative, that the Election Commission of India which has a Constitutional mandate to conduct national and State elections in a fair, free and impartial manner, take urgent note of the concerns and apprehensions raised by major political parties.

 

14.    It is equally important, that there is a consensus among the political parties on the mode of conduct of elections, which for the present, is against the EVMs and in favour of reverting to the original practice of voting by paper ballot.

 

15.    It is, therefore, requested that till such time, the issues of tampering and malfunctions of the EVMs are addressed and the tamper-proof and flawless functioning of EVMs is technologically established and endorsed globally, to the satisfaction of the Political Parties, the forthcoming elections should be conducted under the old paper ballot system.  That continues to be a permissible mode of balloting accepted worldwide and the discretion of the Election Commission under Section 61A should be exercised only after all issues, as raised above, are addressed by the Election Commission to the satisfaction of all Political Parties.

 

16.    The trust deficit amongst political parties in the Electronic devices is too deep seated and   pervasive. It has shattered the faith of the people in the fairness of the electoral process. Democracy is all about trust. If the citizens are reposing their faith and if those very citizens have apprehensions or doubts about the system, the trust factor is getting eroded and it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to allay those fears and apprehensions.

   

17.    Free and fair elections are the basic founding blocks on which the entire edifice of our great country has been built. Any erosion of these basic principles which sustain this edifice needs to be addressed forthwith and in right earnest.

 

Encl  :  Background Note on EVM

 

Sincerely,


 
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