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Cong Nominee Pleads for Use of VVAPT in N’Khed Bypoll

Congress party candidate in the Narayanakhed Assembly Constituency P Sanjeeva Reddy has urged the Election Commission to use EVMs along with VVPATs in Narayankhed bye-election as per the existing law and to ensure that the elections are conducted in the said constituency in a free and fair manner.
Sanjeeva Reddy addressed a letter to the Election Commission saying that when the Congress party enquired Tuesday from the office of Chief Election Officer, Telangana, over telephone, the Congress leaders were told that the same old EVMs (without VVPATs) are going to be used.
Sanjeeva Reddy mentioned that the letter which has been written by TPCC Chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy also mentions that the said EVMs are subject to tampering and illegal use of these EVMs were done in 15-Warangal Parliamentary Constituency elections as well as these elections in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation resulting in large scale tampering. He said that this gross violation of law laid down by the Supreme Court as well as the provisions of Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2013 cannot be allowed as it is not only affecting not only free and fair elections but the democratic structure of our country.
The Supreme Court in Subramaniam Swamy Versus Chief Election Commissioner, in its judgment dated February 8th, 2O16 discussed the said issue and the need to have VVPAT units, he said. It was observed that VVPAT is a system of printing paper-trait when the voter casts his vote in addition to the electronic record of the ballot, for the purpose of verification of his choice of candidate and also for manual counting of votes, in case of a dispute. The following finding of the Supreme Court in the said judgment is extremely important:
“From the materials placed by both the sides, we are satisfied that the paper trail is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The confidence of the voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with the introduction of the “paper trail’. EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system. With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in a democratic system. Pursuant to the above judgment, the Conduct of Elections (Rules), 1961 were amended by introducing Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2013. By the said amendment, Rules 49-A, 49-8, 49-E, 49-M proviso, 49-MA, 49-T and 55-D were added, amendments were also carried out in existing Rules. Under the amended Rule 49-MA, if an allegation is made by an elector that the paper-slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of the candidate other than the one he voted for, the Presiding Officer on completion of certain requirements, can look into the complaint and stop further recording of votes in the voting machine. Similarly, under Rule 56-D, the scrutiny of paper-trail can be done by the Returning Officer on complaint by any candidate. These are some of the important provisions which have been incorporated in the Rules to ensure free and fair elections if EVM with WPAT is used. lf the EVM without WPAT is used, it will on the face of it, violate the provisions contained in the Conduct of Elections(Amendments) Rules, 2013 as well as the judgment dated 08.10.2013 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Subramaniom Swamy v. Chief Election Commissioner. Such elections will also not be free and fair, particularly when such EVMs are amenable to tampering. That EVMs are not safe and can be tampered with has been taken cognizance of by the Election Commission.
He requested, in his letter, that either it should be ensured that the EVMs with VVPAT are used in the elections of 35-Narayankhed Assembly Constituency or the elections are deferred till the EVMs with VVPAT are available. As mentioned above, if the Election Commission still goes ahead with the conduct of election in 35-Narayankhed Assembly Constituency, it will not be free and fair elections, it will not reflect the will of the people in the said constituency and such elections will not at all be conducive to a healthy democracy. lt goes without saying that elections in violation of law will be declared unsustainable, if challenged, he stated. (NSS)