Delhi HC Rejects PIL Alleging Flaws in EVM Checking Procedure for 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

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NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court has dismissed a PIL that challenged the procedure followed by the Chief Electoral Officer during the First-Level Checking (FLC) of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) intended for use in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The PIL was filed by the President of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC).

The DPCC alleged that there was insufficient notice provided to political parties before the FLC process and claimed that despite requesting EVM details, they were not provided, thus undermining the purpose of the procedure.

In response, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula observed that the primary objective of the FLC and the entire electoral process is to uphold public trust in the democratic process.

“Ultimately, the aim of the FLC and the entire electoral process is to serve the public and ensure their trust in the democratic process. The safeguards and checks embedded in the guidelines are sufficient to ensure the integrity of FLC process,” the court said.

The court highlighted the active involvement of engineers from Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited in the FLC process, as well as the encouragement of participation by representatives from both national and state-recognised political parties. The court praised this inclusive approach for guaranteeing transparency and maintaining the credibility of the process.

The bench further pointed out that the representatives from political parties are not just observers but actively participate in various aspects of the process, including the sealing mechanism, which adds an extra layer of security to ensure the reliability of the EVMs after the checks. The court also acknowledged the supervision of District Election Officers (DEOs) and technological measures like webcasting for additional oversight.

The court noted that the DPCC chose to abstain from participating in the process due to perceived procedural concerns, such as a lack of prior information about the list of EVMs and VVPATs scheduled for checking. However, upon examining the instructions and procedures in place, the court found no requirement for such prior notification.

It said that the sealing process involves participatory approval through political representatives’ signatures.

The bench criticised the DPCC for not actively participating in the process and later questioning its integrity, suggesting that active involvement would have been more constructive.

The court said that the inclusion of political representatives in the sealing of EVMs is a significant step toward mutual accountability and ensuring the sanctity of the democratic process.

The court concluded that the DPCC’s petition lacked substantial grounds, and it declined to grant the relief sought by the petitioner.

The DPCC had sought the re-initiation of the FLC process for EVMs and VVPATs and requested that the Election Commission of India provide adequate notice to the political parties for meaningful participation. — IANS

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