The Election Commission of India (ECI) has dismissed the concerns of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh about the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) slips.
The poll panel stated that his concerns raised no new assertions or doubts requiring further clarifications.
In a letter to 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 FAQs (frequently asked questions) answer “adequately and comprehensively” all reasonable and legitimate aspects on the use of EVMs in the 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 August 14, 2013,” said the letter signed by Pramod Kumar Sharma, principal secretary with the Election Commission, The New Indian Express reported.
Earlier, Ramesh has written a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, requesting the CEC that a delegation of leaders from the INDIA bloc be given a chance to meet with him and his team to express their perspective on VVPATS.
In his letter dated 30 December 2023, the Congress general secretary also pointed out that on 9 August 2023, a memorandum had been submitted to the ECI on EVM-related concerns of INDI Alliance.
He mentioned that multiple requests were made on 9, 10, 16, 18, and 23 August last year for a meeting between a delegation of INDI Alliance parties with the ECI.
"On August 23, 2023 ECI issued a clarification to our counsel on the memorandum. This clarification was generic in nature and (i) directed us to refer to the standard FAQs on EVMs available on ECI website; (ii) explained the legal backing for EVMs through Section 61A of the Representation of Peoples' Act, 1951; (iii) summarised judgments of High Courts and the Supreme Court on issue of EVMs; (iv) provided a chart of assembly and parliamentary election results since 2004 to show that the political party winning the maximum number of seats changed several times," Ramesh said.
However, there was no meeting or hearing provided to INDI Alliance parties' delegation despite repeated requests, he said.
Ramesh highlighted that a follow-up representation was sent by INDI Alliance parties through their counsel on 2 October 2023.
He stated that the ECI's clarification on 23 August 2023, did not address the specific concerns raised in the representation.
Furthermore, he added that there was no response received regarding the same.
The letter from Ramesh came days after the INDI Alliance's claim of numerous doubts regarding the reliability of electronic voting machines.
They proposed that voters should receive VVPAT slips, with a full count to be conducted subsequently.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!