RTI Reveals 70 Cases Of Theft Of EVMs After Voting

11 Dec 2017 7:53 AM GMT
RTI Reveals 70 Cases Of Theft Of EVMs After Voting
Courtesy:�The Wire | Image Credit: Jansatta

As per The Wire, a Right To Information (RTI) query issued on electronic voting machines (EVMs) has revealed countless violations of administrative and security protocols. The Election Commission (EC) and two EVM manufacturers – Electronics Corporation of India Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited, responded to it in Delhi.


The Query

The RTI request of was recorded in April by the earlier Uttarakhand minister and Congress candidate from Vikas Nagar constituency, Nav Prabhat, against the winner and competitor from BJP, Munna Singh Chauhan. Justice Sarvesh Kumar Gupta of the Nainital high court oversaw the request under Section 80A of The Representation of People’s Act 1951, charging anomalies in electoral proceedings amid the assembly elections held not long ago. Later on, requests by Congress candidates in various constituencies were clubbed with the original report and investigated.


The Discovery

The EVMs were first seized through the court order and taken into custody. Congressmen found EVMs with their locks broken in the Chakrata and Dehradun Cantonment constituencies in Uttarakhand.

Proper records on the disposal of the EVMs were also not available. Nearly 70 cases of theft have been reported without any convictions. It is also uncanny that the thefts have all been reported from states that are under BJP rule now. This can also be related to the previous reports of tampering with VVPATs in Gujarat this year.

EC in an RTI enquiry in May 29 had revealed that 10,05,662 vote units (BU) and 9,28,049 control units (CU) were made by BEL under Ministry of Defense and 10,14,644 BUs and 9,34,031 CUs were made by ECIL under the Department of Atomic Energy. Yet, the petitioner has expressed that this figure does not count with the data gave by ECIL. Allegedly, it had manufactured 1,97,368 more units of CUs and 3,55,747 more units of BUs than those disclosed by the EC.

“There is a clear instruction that for 45 days after counting of votes, the EVMs should not be moved out but in the case of Vikas Nagar and some other constituencies their EVMs were moved from Maharana Pratap Stadium in Dehradun to District Collectorate compound just a day after the counting,” Nav Prabhat said. The same was done in 13 other constituencies.

It was revealed that unqualified staff has been handling the machines, as well as a difference in the data available in the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) on the number of ballot and control units manufactured over the course of the year. The petition stated that the people deployed to carry out the checking of the EVMs initially were not those who were qualified for the job, even though ECIL had stated that “for any elections conducted through EVMs supplied by ECIL, then only technical personnel from ECIL will be involved”, to carry out “first level check, commissioning and electioning (sic).” ECIL had also stated that close to 70 people would be involved in the “sealing, distribution and polling” of EVMs.

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