SC Issues Notice On Plea By 21 Political Parties For 50% VVPAT Verification

The Supreme Court today issued notice on a petition filed by leaders from 21 political parties seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India(ECI) to randomly verify at least 50 per cent votes using Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) in the polls to 17th Lok Sabha. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has asked the ECI to give its response on March 25. The petition also challenges the decision of ECI to verify VVPAT of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners say that this will account only for 0.44% of the votes polled. This guideline defeats the entire purpose of VVPAT and makes the same “ornamental” without actual substance, they state.

The petition refers to the decision in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v ECI (2013) 10 SCC 500 which held that VVPAT is an “indispensable requirement of free and fair elections”. To give meaningful effect to this judgment, at least 50% of VVPAT should be verified. Also Read – When Interpretation Of ‘Text Mode Document’ Turned Fate Of Kamal Nath’s Plea In MP Polls Case [Read Judgment] “A 50% randomised verification in each assembly constituency/assembly segment is a reasonable sample size to both (a) allay the fears of the general public with regard to EVM tampering and; (b) be a statistically significant sample size to ensure that EVMs are working properly,” the plea said.

VVPAT is a paper slip generated by the Electronic Voting Machine everytime a voter casts his vote, recording the party to whom the vote was made. This is kept in a sealed cover to be opened only in case of a future dispute. The ECI had informed the Court in 2017 that VVPAT will be used 100% in future elections. However, the decision taken by the ECI in July 2018 was to verify VVPAT of a randomly selected polling station from a constituency. The petitioners are : N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) Sharad Pawar (NCP) K C Venugopal (INC) Derek O Brien (TMC) Sharad Yadav (LTJD) Akhilesh Yadav (SP) Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) M K Stalin (DMK) T K Ranga Rajan (CPI(M)) S Sudhakar Reddu (CPI) Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) Farookh Abdullah (NC) K Danish Ali (RJD) Ajith Singh (RLD) M Badrudding Ajmal (AIUDF) Jithin Ram Manji (Hindusthani Awam Morcha) Ashok Kumar Singh (JVM) Khorrum Anis Omar (IUML) Prof.Kodanadram (Telengana Jana Samithi) K G Kenye (Naga Peoples Front)



Even manufacturers can’t manipulate EVMs: EC

The EVMs are robust and tamper- proof and even the manufacturers cannot manipulate them at the time of production, the Election Commission said today, countering allegations that the machines are unreliable.

With the Opposition’s questions on the reliability of the electronic voting machines getting louder, the Commission has come out with a list of ‘frequently asked questions’ to put across its views in public domain.

Recently, the Commission had issued two statements defending the machines. The FAQs are the third attempt by the poll watchdog to counter the doubts on the machines’ reliability.

One of the first questions the FAQ addresses is whether the machine can be hacked?

No, asserts the Commission.

The M1 (model one) of EVM was manufactured till 2006 and had all necessary technical features it “non-hackable contrary to claims made by some activists”, it said.

The M2 model of EVMs produced after 2006 and up to 2012 incorporated additional safety features. It can detect “malicious sequenced key presses”.

“Further, the ECI-EVMs are not computer controlled, are stand alone machines and not connected to the Internet or any other network. Hence, there is no chance of hacking by remote devices… also do not have any frequency receiver or decoder for data for wireless or any external hardware port for connection to any other non-EVM accessory or device. Hence no tampering is possible,” the poll panel said.

The Commission also rejected suggestions that the machines can be manipulated by the manufacturer itself.

“Not possible,” it said. The EVMs have been manufactured in different years since 2006 and sent to different states.

The manufacturers — ECIL and BEL — would not know several years ahead which candidate will contest from a particular constituency and what will be the sequence of the candidates on the ballot unit,” it said.

It also asserted that no ‘trojan horse’ can be injected into the EVM in the field. In fact, the new M3 EVIN produced after 2013 have additional features like tamper detection and self diagnostics.

The tamper detection feature makes an EVM inoperative the moment anyone tries to open the machine. The self diagnostic feature checks the EVM fully every time it is switched on. Any change in its hardware or software will be detected.

It said contrary to “misinformation and as alleged by some”, India does not use any EVMs produced abroad.

The EVMs are produced indigenously and the software programme code is written in-house and not outsourced.

“The programme is converted into machine code and only then given to the chip manufacturer abroad because we don’t have the capability of producing semi-conductor microchips within the country.

“Every microchip has an identification number embedded into memory and the producers have their digital signatures on them. So, the question of their replacement does not arise at all because microchips are subjected to functional tests with regard to the software. Any attempt to replace microchip is detectable and can make EVM in-operative,” it said.

Ruling out the possibility of manipulation of the machines at the place of storage, the Commission said security measures and double checks that such a possibility does not arise.

It said due to different level of stringent checks and balances, neither ‘ECI-EVMs’ can leave the EC system nor any outside machine — non-ECI EVM — can be inducted into the system.

Why have developed nations such as the US and the European Union not adopted EVMs and some have discontinued?

To this, the Commission said the problem faced with the machines in these countries was that they were computer controlled and connected to the network, which in turn, made them prone to hacking.

Moreover, adequate security measures and safeguards in their corresponding laws were not present. Hence the use of EVMs were struck down by their courts.

Source : PTI

SC seeks EC’s response on plea alleging tampering with EVMs

SC seeks EC's response on plea alleging tampering with EVMs
SC seeks EC’s response on plea alleging tampering with EVMs

The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Election Commission on a PIL seeking investigation by software experts into allegations that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) were tampered with in the recent Assembly polls.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul issued notice to the poll panel on the plea that alleged that EVMs, used by the Election Commission for conducting polls, can easily be tampered with.

The PIL filed by Advocate M L Sharma in his personal capacity had also sought a direction to the Centre for registering an FIR to investigate the alleged tampering of EVMs “for vested interest by a political party and to file their report before the apex court”.

However, the court did not issue notice to the Centre and others mentioned in the PIL.

The plea sought examination of the “quality, software/ malware and hacking effect in the EVMs from a reliable electronic lab/scientist and software expert and to file their report before this court for further action/prosecution”.

The petitioner referred to allegations of EVM tampering in the recent assembly elections in five states and Maharashtra civic polls.

The PIL claimed that it was admitted by the poll panel itself that EVMs are tamper-proof only until their technical, mechanical and software details remain a secret.

“These details can be detected via reverse engineering by any expert. Wireless device/software can be prepared via reverse engineering, and with their help voting records can be changed in any location and at any time,” the plea claimed.

( Source – PTI )

Gujarat High Court seeks details of EVM, e-voters

The Gujarat High Court, hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) against introduction of online voting in local self-government bodies polls, has sought details of voters who cast ballot through the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and e-voting.

In details available Wednesday, a bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Anant Dave, allowing the state government and others to file affidavit in this regard, sought to know the method the state election commission or the presiding officer adopted for supervising the voting.

Two Congress leaders of Ahmedabad had filed the PIL against the state government’s decision to amend the provisions of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation (BPMC) Act and introduce online voting. Former city mayor Himmatsinh Patel and another Congress leader in their petition claimed that such amendment was against constitutional provisions.

According to the PIL, the election process has to be free and fair and the ballot has to be secret in any election. They alleged that recent amendments made to the BPMC Act were in violation of the constitutional mandate.

They also feared that the privacy of e-vote would be compromised in absence of any safeguard to it. ‘There is no safeguard to make sure that the person has voted in isolation and as per his own wish,’ the petitioners contended.

The petitioners pointed out the possibilities of virus attacks that could vitiate the entire database of e-votes and result in a major election fraud.

Following the petition, the court issued notices to the respondents – the state of Gujarat, the chief secretary of the state urban development department and the chief election officer of the state election commission.

The matter is slated to come up Dec 15.

Gujarat became the first state in India to introduce online voting when the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls were held this month.