EC dismisses claim by 'US-based expert' on EVMs

EC dismisses claim by 'US-based expert' on EVMs

Indians try out the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in conjunction with the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), a ballotless voting system, at an Election Commission demonstration stand in Mumbai on January 16, 2019. - These demonstrations are an ef

The Election Commission on Monday dismissed the claim made by a cyber expert based in the United States that the Electronic Voting Machines could be tampered with and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections had been rigged.

The EC also threatened legal action against Syed Shuja, who claimed to be a former employee of the Electronic Corporation of India Limited and addressed media-persons in London through Skype on Monday.

“(The) ECI (Election Commission of India) firmly stands by the empirical facts about foolproof nature of (the) ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India,” the poll-panel stated, even as it dismissed Shuja's claim as “motivated slugfest”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed the claims made by the US-based cyber expert. “Was the Election Commission & millions of Staffers involved in manufacturing, programming of EVMs & conduct of elections during the UPA Government in collusion with the BJP – absolutely rubbish,” tweeted Jaitley.

“Does the Congress feel that the people are so gullible that they will swallow any garbage? Insanity in the Congress party is increasingly becoming contagious,” said the minister, who is in the US for a medical check-up.

Though Kapil Sibal, a leader of the Congress and a member of the Rajya Sabha, was present at the event in London, the party distanced itself from it. The Congress, however, insisted that the charges made by Shuja in London were “very serious in nature” and required investigation.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Opposition do have grave doubt on the functioning of EVMs and reiterated the demand for shifting to paper ballots for the conduct of elections. However, considering that such a shift would not be possible at a short notice, the EC should count 50% of the paper trails of the VVPAT machines that have been linked to all the EVMs, said Singhvi.

“It could lead to a little delay in declaring the election results, but a little delay is better than a grave doubt on democracy,” Singhvi said.

"Our great democracy must be protected. Every vote of yours is precious. All Oppn parties discussed the #EVM issue after the #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade rally. We are working closely together and decided on Jan 19 itself to consistently take up the matter to consistently take up the matter with EC. Yes, every vote counts," tweeted West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee.

The EC reiterated that the EVMs it deployed to conduct elections in India were manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) “under very strict supervisory and security conditions”.

There are rigorous Standard Operating Procedures meticulously observed at all stages under the supervision of a committee of eminent technical experts constituted way back in 2010,” said the poll-panel.

“It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter,” said the EC.