Accusing the Election Commission of India of not carrying out even a basic audit of the inventory, deployment, transportation and functionality of Electronic Voting Machines, Mumbai-based RTI activist Manoranjan S Roy on Monday told National Herald that he had enough reasons to suspect misuse of the EVMs.
Roy claimed over the phone that he had received around 2,000 pages of information by way of replies from the ECI, EVM manufacturers and the state election commissions of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Pointing to glaring discrepancies in the replies received by him, Roy told NH that while EVM manufacturer Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) maintains that it had not supplied any EVM to any state between 2006 and 2013, Uttar Pradesh state election commission claims it had received EVMs from the company in 2011 and 2012.
The Uttar Pradesh SEC in its reply claimed that ECIL had supplied over 16,000 Balloting Units (Bus) and 12,100 Controlling Units (CUs) for a payment of ₹142.86 Crore in 2011.
The RTI activist said there were discrepancies between the number of polling booths set up in Uttar Pradesh in the assembly election in 2017 also. While the SEC said in its reply that 1,90,388 booths were set up, the number furnished by the ECI was 11,356, an evidently inaccurate figure.
What appears to be an even more serious discrepancy, says Roy, is the claim of UP SEC that it received 1.92 lakh units (Balloting and Controlling together) from Maharashtra and the ECIL for the UP assembly election in 2017; at the same time it claimed to have deployed 3.06 lakh units in the assembly election.
The reply does not clarify if the 1.08 lakh extra units deployed were from old stock, or the source of those units.
No transportation details were provided by UP SEC on grounds that the EVMs were received from different states across India. "The RTI replies by both Maharashtra and UP SEC's show they have not conducted audits, maintained proper accounts, there are contradictions galore among all the concerned agencies on the number of EVMs supplied or received, raising serious doubts on where such huge amounts of public money have actually gone," Roy told IANS in Mumbai. "There are absolutely no records of which EVMs were actually used for elections, how many are defective or defunct, why and which different models were deployed, who has approved these different models, the type of software-hardware used and whether they are hack-proof, whether the software is dedicated (exclusive) or purchased from the market, etc," Roy said.
The net result is that large stocks of unaccounted EVMs along with BUs/CUs are lying with various SECs all over India and are prone to severe misuse by vested interests during different elections where they are deployed, he explained, adding that Karnataka elections are coming up in May 2018. Moreover, since the past 30 years, there is continuous purchase of EVMs by the ECI for the elections, but even the basic details are missing. "If this is the situation in just two states, the state of affairs in all other states can well be imagined," Roy said.
All this calls for a thorough review of the authentic stock position of all EVMs from 1989, the number of non-functional or defective EVMs of both the suppliers and the available stocks with all states, the models and software installed, etc, well before the next general elections, Roy demanded. Roy has filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court, seeking directions to all parties to provide all records/documents pertaining to the EVMs.
With IANS inputs.