June 24, 2022

Madhya Pradesh High Court rejects petition from political party alleging differences in EVMs

The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently dismissed a political party’s petition alleging discrepancies in electronic voting machines.

According to the petitioner, Madhya Pradesh Jan Vikas party, there are many stages of making, transporting, randomizing, loading symbols, etc. occur. All of this is done by the manufacturing companies. Therefore, the petitioner’s argument is that statutory provisions and rules have been violated by the use of EVMs. The petitioner claimed that all these acts should only be done by the Election Commission of India.

When reviewing the claims, Chief Justice Ravi Malimath’s Chamber and Judge Vijay Kumar Shukla found no grounds for interference.

The Court observed that the requested prayers are aimed at ordering the respondents to comply with the law. There can be no mandamus to enforce a law.

“Even otherwise, we do not find that there is a violation which justifies any interference by this Court. Various procedures as set out in the law and rules are to be followed by the Respondent-Election Commission of India. They did it. In case of violation, the appropriate remedy is also provided for the same. Therefore, we find no good reason to intervene. The request is rejected ”,

-the order reads.

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The petitioner had requested the following prayers: –

“I. Order the respondents to take effective measures to eliminate the discrepancies in the electronic voting machines, stated in the petition to conduct the assembly and the upcoming general elections free and fair with the purity of the electoral process or may be ordered to conduct the election with the other alternative mode in accordance with the law;

II. Order respondents to take effective measures to comply with Rule 49E (2), in which it is mandatory to show empty storage and to assure election officials that there is no prior vote previously recorded ;

III. Order the respondents to take effective measures to prevent the EVM from counting the vote in the center of the voting booth because the count must take place in the presence of the count and the return of the icer;

IV Order the Respondents to disclose the approved hardware configuration of the electronic voting machines, and the approved size, shape, color and number of components, to the candidates’ representatives of the political parties;

V. Issue a writ in the nature of a mandamus directing the respondents to allow the technical experts / engineers of the requesting political party to have the necessary equipment at the time of the first level verification, commissioning, randomization of candidates and when loading the symbol to verify and review the fairness of all stages of the electoral process;

VI. Have the respondent demonstrate the source code / programming / software to examine that there is no such programming that benefits particular candidates or candidates of a particular party;

VII To order the Respondent to allow the Applicant on Election Day to review the EVMs with their technical experts / engineers with respect to software / source code / programming or microchip as well as any bluetooth or wireless device, may not be available in machines that benefit the special candidate or particular political party in accordance with Rule 49 (E) (2) of the 1961 Election Conduct Rule;

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VIII. Order the respondent to certify each machine that it is original and that there is no tempering or manipulation;

IX. Ask the respondent to conduct their own employee / technical engineer or expert review at the time of FLC / commissioning / randomization / symbol loading just after the EVMs come into the possession of the electoral commission;

X. Direct the respondent to examine the defective machine himself in front of the representatives / agents of the political parties;

XI. To order the respondent to position the VVPAT after having controlled the unit, so that the voter can confirm that his vote has been recorded successfully to whom he has voted;

XII. Even otherwise, without the aforementioned measures and reliefs claimed above in the EVM and VVPAT, the defendant must refrain from using the electronic voting machines and VVPAT in the next elections taking place in the future. or that electronic voting machines be banned during the conduct of elections, due to the large-scale deviations available in the machines, as mentioned in the petition;

XIII. Any other remedy which the Honorable High Court may deem appropriate may be granted ”.

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The petitioner relied on various provisions of the Representation of Persons Act and rules. The Applicant submits that there have been breaches of the rules on various fronts and, therefore, the Respondent-Election Commission of India must be urged to take effective action to comply with the rules.