Monday, May 20, 2019

Commission's Omissions: EC lies in affidavit before SC in VVPAT case filed by opposition parties

Among other falsehoods, the affidavit claims that there had not been any mismatch in the VVPAT and EVM tallies conducted in the past two years, and that the EC had only received one complaint about a VVPAT recording an incorrect vote since 2013.
In March this year, the Election Commission filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court that contained lies or obscured the truth, and thus misled the court. ADNAN ABIDI / REUTERS

Documents accessed by The Caravan show that in March this year, the Election Commission filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court that made blatantly false claims.

The EC submitted the affidavit in response to a petition filed by 21 opposition parties, seeking instructions to the electoral watchdog to verify 50 percent of the Electronic Voting Machine results with the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips.

 On 8 April, the court rejected the petition, relying heavily on the EC’s affidavit, which was filed by Sudeep Jain, the deputy election commissioner.

 Among other falsehoods, the affidavit claims that there had not been any mismatch in the VVPAT and EVM tallies conducted in the past two years, and that the EC had only received one complaint about a VVPAT recording an incorrect vote since 2013.

Prime logo
by Amazon
Price:   22,999.00  FREE Delivery.Details

The EC states in its affidavit that since May 2017, “1500 polling stations over several General Elections to the State Legislatures as well as bye elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies have undergone VVPAT slip count wherein the tally matched completely i.e no error was detected.”

Considering Modi-Shah's evil brilliance, there is something they have done with the EVMs in cohorts with Sunil Arora, and these Exit Polls are being shown to legitimize that result which will come on 23rd.

Misleading the Supreme Court with lies is not Modi's prerogative only - India's Election Commission is doing it too!

Yet, according to a Press Trust of India report published by News18, BB Swain, who was the chief electoral officer of Gujarat at the time, admitted that there were mismatches in one booth each on four seats—Vagra, Dwarka, Ankleshwar and Bhavnagar Rural—during the assembly elections held in December 2017.

“There was a mismatch of some votes on one booth each of these four seats,” Swain said, according to the News18 report. “This occurred because the Returning Officer must have made the same mistake but it could not be detected earlier. So we took into account VVPAT slips for these booths during the counting and resolved the issue.” The report also notes that VVPAT slips were counted at “10 booths across seven constituencies as the presiding officers of these booths had failed to wipe out the votes from the EVMs during the mock poll ahead of the voting on December 9 and 14.”

The Red Tea Detox

A similar incident took place during the Karnataka assembly polls, in May 2018. A press note published by ANI stated that the EVMs had not been cleared after the mock polls, due to which there was a difference of 54 votes in the final tally between the EVM and VVPAT in one polling booth of the Hubli Dharwad constituency. It added that the winning candidate had won by over 20,000 votes, whereas the affected VVPAT recorded only 459 votes, and that it had no effect on the final result.

The EC’s affidavit, however, does not mention either of these incidents. Instead, it later repeats, “No mismatch has been detected in mock polls or in verification of VVPAT slips carried out at 1500 polling stations till date.”

The EC prescribes the procedure for VVPAT verification in an official manual. For state elections, the VVPAT verification must be conducted in one polling station in each assembly constituency, and similarly in each assembly segment for the Lok Sabha elections. In its April order rejecting the demand for 50-percent verification, the Supreme Court also directed the EC to increase the verification to five booths per assembly segment. Among other reasons, the court noted that the EC’s affidavit states that 50-percent verification would delay the counting process by up to five or six days.

But the EC’s affidavit contains further submissions that obscure the truth, and thus mislead the court. For instance, the affidavit omits crucial details about the number of voters who have filed complaints that the paper slip generated by the VVPAT showed a different candidate or party than the one they selected.

In 2013, the EC added Rule 49MA to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, which prescribes the standard procedure in cases of complaints about incorrect VVPAT slips. It stipulates that if someone makes such a complaint, the polling booth’s presiding officer must obtain a written declaration from the elector about the allegation, after warning them of penal consequences if it is found to be false. The elector is then required to conduct a test vote in the presence of a polling officer, who must either stop the polling process, if the complaint is genuine, or record an entry for test votes that must be reduced from the total tally, if it is false.

The EC claims that there has only been one such complaint. “It is pertinent to point out here that till date VVPATs have been used by the Election Commission of India, since 2013, in 1628 Assembly constituencies and 21 Parliamentary Constituencies,” the affidavit states. 

“During this period, only once has any complaint been made by a voter alleging that his/her vote did not go to the candidate he had pressed in favour of.” But according to a document accessed by The Caravan, during the Telangana assembly elections in 2018, the Loyapally polling booth of Thungathurthy constituency alone recorded 50 complaints and subsequent test votes under Rule 49MA.

In the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission has been widely criticised for partisanship in favour of the ruling party and accused of failing to fulfil its mandate—conducting free and fair elections. 

Following the Supreme Court’s order, the opposition parties filed a review petition arguing that VVPAT verification at five polling booths was insufficient to ensure transparency in the process. The review petitioners sought to negotiate with the court, and bargained for a 33-percent verification of VVPAT slips. On 7 May, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court declined to review its order.- Excerpted from The Caravan

No comments:

Post a Comment

Find the post useful/interesting? Share it by clicking the buttons below