Mumbai: In a significant development, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered issuing of notices to the Election Commission of India (EC), Maharashtra State Election Commission (M-SEC) and two public sector makers of electronic voting machines (EVM) and others in a public interest litigation filed by an RTI activist. The directions were given by Justice S.S. Kemkar and Justice S.V. Kotwal when the PIL filed by activist Manoranjan S. Roy came up for admission.
Others being served notices are the Union Home Ministry, IT Department and Maharashtra Government. The two EVM manufacturers are Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. and Bharat Electronics Ltd. The matter is expected to come up for further hearing after two weeks, according to the lawyer for Roy, P. Pawar of Pawar & Co. The petitioner, among other things, had highlighted the manner in which a large number of EVMs and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) were being ordered by the EC and various SECs and that there were huge contradictions in the figures of orders and supplies made by the two manufacturers.
In recent RTI queries raised by Roy, it had been revealed how the Bengaluru-based BEL had despatched large quantities of electronic voting machines by ‘hand-delivery’ and ‘by post’ to various unidentified recipients. BEL said it had despatched 820 balloting units (BUs) of the machines in bulk packaging, and on two occasions in April (2017) it sent 245 (VVPAT) machines ‘By Hand’, to certain recipients and destinations, according to the RTI replies given to Roy.
As the country prepares for the 2019 general elections, several instances of “indiscriminate” orders and deliveries of EVMs have emerged in RTI responses, Roy said. Inexplicably, BEL also supplied 500 EVMs to Chandigarh, which is the only city to get its own machines. Elsewhere, the EVMs go to the respective states from where they are distributed. Roy demanded that BEL — and the Election Commission of India — must explain why Chandigarh got this differential treatment. (IANS)