The Uttarakhand High Court today dismissed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the Election Commission’s EVM challenge to be held tomorrow saying there is no scope to doubt the fair working of the voting machines. Soon after the judgement, the Commission said its much- hyped EVM challenge is “on” as scheduled tomorrow.
The NCP and the CPI-M are the only parties which have applied to participate in the challenge. The poll panel had invited seven national and 49 state parties recognised by it for the challenge. It had left out smaller parties and Independents who contested the recent polls from participating. Even foreign experts are barred.
Each participant will get four EVMs to try to hack into it within four hours.
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Since neither of the two parties had indicated any preference, the poll panel has brought machines from Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the challenge. The machines are at present sealed in their carry boxes and would be opened in the presence of the participants. They are carrying the results from the polling station there were recently used at.
Earlier, rejecting a PIL filed by a state Congress leader challenging the constitutional correctness of the EC move, a division bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Sharad Sharma gave the green signal to the EVM challenge.
Allowing the Election Commission to go forward with the EVM challenge, the court instructed that as a form of greater good of the public, all national, state and other political parties, NGOs and individuals, electronic media, press, radio, social media, and other platforms have been barred from criticising the use of EVMs in the recent state assembly elections until the decision of election-related petitions are pending in the court of law.
The bench said that the Election Commission has been subjected to much negative speculation after successfully organising a free and fair election.
The court pointed out that the work to build EVM machines is done by government agencies and the Election Commission is a constitutional body.
Thus, there is no scope to doubt the fair working of the EVMs and hence, the organisation of a demonstration/challenge tomorrow must be left to the discretion of the Election Commission at best.
Petitioner Ramesh Pande had contended that the EC’s move was in contravention of Article 324 of the Constitution and was therefore ultra vires.
As per section 80 (a) of the Representation of the People Act, only the high court had the prerogative to organise a hackathon like this, he had said.