Disputing the allegations made by Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh regarding Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), the Election Commission of India (ECI) affirmed its “full faith” in the use of EVMs in elections.
The response followed Ramesh’s letter to the Election Commission, seeking an appointment to discuss the VVPAT issue with the delegation of INDIA bloc leaders.
In its reply, the ECI stood firm, stating that public domain literature on EVMs, including the latest updated FAQs (85 Questions), adequately addresses all reasonable and legitimate aspects of EVM use. The ECI emphasized that Rules 49A and 49M of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, governing VVPAT and paper slip handling, were introduced by the Indian National Congress (INC) on August 14, 2013.
The Commission mentioned that it had comprehensively addressed all queries in response to earlier letters, dated 09.08.2023 and 23.08.2023, covering various aspects such as non-tampering, non-hacking, legal provisions, technical competency, and more. The recent letter dated December 30, 2023, according to the ECI, did not raise any new issues or doubts that required further clarification.
The ECI asserted that the current EVMs used in Indian elections comply with the existing legal framework and jurisprudence established over 40 years by the Constitutional Courts of India. The Commission highlighted that matters related to VVPAT are sub judice in the Supreme Court of India.
Referring to frivolous petitions against EVM/VVPAT use in elections, the ECI noted the dismissals by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, which imposed costs on the petitioners for filing publicity-seeking petitions. The Commission reiterated that political parties and candidates are involved at every stage of handling EVMs.
The ECI concluded by stating its full faith in the use of EVMs based on election outcomes, legal frameworks, established jurisprudence, technical security, and administrative safeguards. It dismissed out-of-context references to other countries and their Constitutional Courts, emphasizing confidence in the use of EVMs in Indian elections.
Jairam Ramesh’s letter, seeking an appointment for INDIA bloc leaders to discuss VVPAT concerns, referenced previous attempts for a meeting and expressed dissatisfaction with the ECI’s characterization of their memorandum as ‘generic.’ The letter highlighted specific concerns that remained unaddressed and reiterated the delegation’s commitment to discussing and providing suggestions on the use of VVPATs.