Uttarakhand High Court on Monday ordered seal and seizure of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) within 48 hours of six constituencies that went to polls on February 15 as candidates produced “circumstantial evidence” that the elections were rigged.
The six seats are Rajpur Road, BHEL Ranipur, Raipur, Mussoorie, Pratapnagar and Hardwar Rural. These seats are not in remote hilly areas, except Pratapnagar, but belong to the two biggest districts of Dehradun and Haridwar.
The ruling comes three days after the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered the seizure of all EVMS used during polls in Vikasnagar constituency of Dehradun district.
The order passed by Justice Sarvesh Kumar Gupta was with regard to an election petition filed by Congress’ Vikasnagar runner-up candidate Navprabhat who had lost the seat to BJP’s MS Chauhan in February this year. It also issued notices to the Election Commission of India, the State Election Commission and others, giving them a 6-weeks response window.
M S Chauhan defeated former cabinet minister and Congress nominee Navprabhat by 6,418 votes. Navprabhat had then filed a plea in the state high court alleging that EVMs in Vikasnagar were rigged during the February 15 polls. He also alleged that the winning candidate Chauhan was “personally involved in the EVM tampering” and that 9,000 fake names were on the voter’s list in the constituency.
Former chief minister Harish Rawat had also lost Hardwar Rural to a BJP candidate. “We have filed election petitions, citing circumstantial evidence that the elections were rigged. The high court has taken its cognisance and ordered the seizure of the EVMs,” said Navprabhat as reported by The Indian Express.
The BJP denied these allegations with MS Chauhan saying that the party respects the judicial process, but the opposition’s claims were baseless and an insult to the Election Commission of India.
The HC’s order comes as several political parties had alleged of EVM rigging in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab elections, however, the EC maintains its stand that EVMs are tamper-proof.