Giving a set back to the Congress party, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday rejected a petition filed by the party in relation to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). On Tuesday, Congress leader Naresh Saraf had filed a petition in the high court demanding constitution of a SIT to probe alleged irregularities in handling EVMs during the assembly elections. Madhya Pradesh voted on November 28.
Jabalpur: MP High Court dismisses plea filed by Congress party in connection with EVM malfunction.Court refused to interfere in the matter expressing satisfaction on action by EC.Court reserved its decision over plea filed over the counting of VVPAT slips along with that of EVMs.
— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2018
The petition alleged that there was lack of adequate security in handling both used and unused EVMs and VVPATs in some areas in the state. It was also alleged that attempt to tamper with the machines were made in Bhopal, Shajaput, Sagar and Khandwa.
The petitioner had also alleged that no separate facility was created to keep the unused reserve EVMs after polling was held. These were kept within the vicinity of EVMs used in polling in all the assembly seats, the petitioner had said. The petition sought the court’s direction to the Election Commission to reveal the number of unused, reserved EVMs. It also sought punishment for authorities for alleged dereliction of election duty.
Responding the petition, the Election Commission refuted all the allegations and asserted that all the necessary steps have been taken for safe upkeeping of EVMs and VVPATs used in the elections, as well as unused and reserved EVMs and VVPATs. The Election Commission in its detailed response to the complaint of the Congress had clarified that the alleged ‘power cut’ in the Strong Room was due to disconnection of the power supply of the poll room after it was sealed as per the poll panel rules. The subsequent power cut was because of the local fault of the electricity arrangement and not because of the power cut of the electricity board as mistakenly informed by the District Election Officer. The report said that no one visited the strong room during the period of the power cut.
After examining the reports submitted by the poll commission, the bench of chief justice S K Seth and judge Vijay Kumar Shukla disposed of the petition saying no further action is needed to be taken. The bench in its order said “the strong rooms for storing polled EVMs/VVPATs and warehouses for unused/reserved EVMs/VVPATs are separate buildings with separate security arrangements. It was clear that the strong rooms with polled EVMs/VVPATs were sealed immediately after the poll to be opened on the day of counting. These strong rooms are under the security of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces with a triple cordon of security.’’
The bench observed that the Election Commission had conveyed all the alternative security measures to Congress. Therefore no separate action is required in relation to the EVMs and the strong rooms.
Like most recent elections, the Congress party has been trying to spread rumour of EVM tampering. Last week, Congress leader Ahmed Patel had posted a video of EVMs being transported in a school bus, and had alleged that EVMs were being carried to the strong room two days after the election. But it was revealed that those were unused EVMs being sent to EC warehouse and not to a strong room. The Election Commission had removed the returning officer of the assembly seat for delay in returning the unused machines.
Taking benefit of such rumours by top leaders of the party, some thugs are even trying to dupe local Congress leaders offering to hack EVMs. One such man was arrested 2 days ago when he had approached a Congress candidate in the state proposing to hack the machines in his favour for ₹2.5 lakh per unit.
Another petition filed by advocate Amitabh Gupta on the same day had sought counting of slips of VVPAT machines used in November 28 polling. The petition requested that the slips of VVPAT machines should be tallied with the votes polled in the EVMs for all the 230 Assembly constituencies in the state. The court has reserved its verdict on this petition.
The counting of votes will take place on December 11.