ECI dismisses Jairam Ramesh’s concerns on VVPATs, asserts full faith in EVMs

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A view of a VVPAT machine. Dismissing Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s concerns on the VVPATs, the ECI on January 5 said that it raised “no new assertions or reasonable and legitimate doubts which require further clarifications”, adding the rules governing paper slips were introduced by the grand old party-led government in 2013.

A view of a VVPAT machine. Dismissing Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s concerns on the VVPATs, the ECI on January 5 said that it raised “no new assertions or reasonable and legitimate doubts which require further clarifications”, adding the rules governing paper slips were introduced by the grand old party-led government in 2013.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Dismissing Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s concerns on the VVPATs, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on January 5 said that it raised “no new assertions or reasonable and legitimate doubts which require further clarifications”, adding the rules governing paper slips were introduced by the grand old party-led government in 2013.

In a communication to Mr. Ramesh, the poll body also expressed “full faith in the use of the EVMs in the elections” and made it clear that the latest updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answer “adequately and comprehensively” all reasonable and legitimate aspects on the use of the EVMs in the Indian elections.

“Rule 49A and 49M of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, governing VVPAT and handling of paper slips was introduced by INC (Indian National Congress) on 14th August, 2013,” said the letter signed by Pramod Kumar Sharma, Principal Secretary in the Election Commission.

Mr. Ramesh had written to the ECI on December 30 last year, requesting that a delegation of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) be given an appointment to put forth their views on the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

The Opposition alliance had at a meeting on December 19 voiced doubts about the integrity of functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and wanted the VVPAT slips to be handed over to the voters, who could drop it in a separate box.

The Opposition alliance had also demanded 100% matching of the slips and the EVMs.

“The recent letter dated December 30, 2023, does not raise any unresponded issue on EVM/VVPAT,” MR. Sharma said.

He said the letter dated December 30, 2023, said to be in sequence of the earlier letters “has no new assertions or reasonable and legitimate doubts which requires further clarifications”.

The Commission also dubbed as “out of context” the references made to other countries and their Constitutional Courts about the use of the EVMs in the elections.

“Based on the outcomes of the elections conducted using EVMs, legal framework, established jurisprudence, technical security and administrative safeguards, the Commission has full faith in the use of the EVMs in the elections,” Sharma asserted.

The poll body pointed out that political parties and candidates are associated at every stage of handling of the EVMs, starting from FLC, storage, movement, training, randomisation, commissioning, mock polls, start of poll, close of poll and counting.

The Commission said issues covering all aspects of the EVMs like non-tampering, non-hacking, micro controllers, end-to-end verifiability, legal provisions, counting, technical competency, manufacturing and source code have already been addressed by it.

“It is stated that current EVMs in use in the Indian elections are compliant to the extant legal framework created and strengthened by the successive Union governments of the day and jurisprudence evolved over 40 years by the Constitutional Courts of India,” the Commission said.

Anything beyond the existing legal framework and established jurisprudence is beyond the singular domain of the Commission, it added.

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