The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the Election Commission’s response on an allegation that electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the last Assembly polls in Uttarakhand were handled by private parties, leaving them open to possible tampering. The petition, filed by a resident of Uttarakhand, argued that EVMs and VVPATs (voter verified paper audit trails) were handled by private parties in breach of the commission’s rules and in disregard of the recommendations of a committee which said physical contact was the only way these machines could be tampered with. The case, before a bench led by Justice AK Sikri, was argued by senior advocate Kapil Sibal. Citing RTI (right to information) replies, the petition claimed that the poll panel had conceded to have requisitioned the help of private security, transportation and other personnel during the elections.
Several public interest litigations (PILs) have been filed in the run-up to elections in recent times to ensure the poll process is fair. Many of them are by the Congress party.
Congress had earlier challenged and won its case against use of ‘NOTA’ (none of the above) option in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat. The top court ruled that use of NOTA in indirect elections to the Upper House would be anathema to democracy and defeat the 10th Schedule enacted to deal with horse-trading. The top court had earlier directed that every EVM should be attached to a VVPAT to check rigging.
Another petition pending in court seeks tallying of VVPATs with results from the EVMs in at least 10% of polling stations in each constituency.