Mumbai based RTI activist Manoranjan S Roy has petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission to file a proper affidavit on his petition alleging huge discrepancies in the EVMs supplied by manufacturers, the EVMs deployed and the EVMs said to have developed defects. A large number of EVMs are also not accounted for according to replies furnished by the ECI under Right To Information Act, the petition states.
Roy claimed in his petition filed in the Supreme Court that although he had filed the PIL in the Bombay High Court over a year ago, the Election Commission of India failed to file an affidavit despite repeated adjournments.
The Bombay High Court, his petition states, allowed several adjournments and despite his prayer for directions well before the general election of 2019, his plea was ignored.
Seeking an early hearing, the petition claims that the Bombay High Court in its written interim order dated March 8, 2019 observed, “we have no doubt that the Election Commission would maintain proper record of the machines purchased including the record of the machines which are not in use or machines which are found to be defective. Stand over for four weeks.”
In his Special Leave Petition filed through advocate KK Mohan under article 136 of Constitution of India, the activist has claimed that he had obtained information from the Election Commission as well as the manufacturers based on RTI applications.
RTI replies received from the manufacturers of the EVMs, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and various state governments show glaring discrepancies and differences in EVMs supplied, machines which are being used by the ECI and the State Election Commissions (SECs), his petition states.
The petitioner claims that figures of total number of Ballot Units and Control Units provided to ECI from 2010 to March 31, 2017 under RTI provides different figures in its two replies dated June 29, 2017 and September 16, 2017.
“It is apparent that there is huge difference from which it can easily inferred that some kind of fraud is being perpetuated in the supply of EVMs for ready reference,” the petition says.
“The EVMs manufactured by ECIL for the ECI in 2014-2015 has a capacity to handle a maximum of 384 candidates and 2000 votes. However, the machines manufactured by the same company for SECs during the same period handle a maximum of 60 candidates and 7900 votes,” Roy states in his petition before adding, “there is no clarify what kind of machines would be used in the ensuing general elections.”
Alleging that the number of machines despatched by the manufacturer (ECIL) in 2014 were far beyond the capacity of vehicles which were closed containers and as such could not be overloaded, the petition further says: “This caused apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that something was seriously wrong in the manufacturing, supply by the manufacturers and receipt and use by the Election Commission with regard to EVMs.”
Incidentally, the ECI is already struggling with multiple petitions in the Supreme Court, indicating lack of faith in the EVM usage. Several political parties, civil society members and activists have raised doubts over the way EVMs are used for conducting elections.