Mumbai: A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court, challenging the rule made by the Election Commission of India (EC) that a person lodging a false complaint against electronic voting machines (EVMs) or voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) can be jailed for six months or a penalty of Rs 10,000 can be imposed on him or her.
The petitioner has contended that the provision under election law is unconstitutional and arbitrary. A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Manoj Sanklecha was hearing the petition filed by advocate Prakash Wagh. According to the petition, the EC should create such an atmosphere that people trust EVMs and VVPATs but instead of doing that, stringent conditions are being imposed on the basic rights of citizens. There is no coherence in the rules of the ECI and this is affecting the fundamental rights of citizens.
The petitioner alleged that if voters were suspicious about VVPATs or EVMs, he or she would still not register compla-ints with the EC fearing torture and economic loss.
The petition also gave an example of one incident in Assam where former police officer Harikrushna Deka saw a different name in the VVPAT. He went to the electoral officer who said that if the complaint failed, Deka would have to pay Rs 10,000 and undergo six months’ imprisonment.
On Friday, advocate Wagh mentioned his petition before Justice Oka but the court refused to give him immediate hearing. The court also asked him to make an application before the registrar to assign this petition before a special bench.
Recently, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, along with Opposition leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar conducted a press conference and demanded counting of 50 per cent of the VVPAT slips. Naidu claimed that only 18 countries had so far adopted EVMs. “Our demand is that the EC must count 50 per cent of VVPAT slips,” he said.