An Election Commission’s directive restricting selling of EVMs by two designated public sector undertakings was objected to by state election commissions, according to minutes of a recent conference of State Election Commissioners accessed through RTI. The meeting was attended by Election Commissioners of almost all states and union territories. The participants raised “grave concerns” on the Election Commission of India’s circular in this regard saying it “will further create confusion both among voters and the political parties about the use and credibility of the machines”. The circular issued on May 26, 2017, states that the “design of ECI EVM, as approved by Technical Experts Committee/Commission, shall not be used for selling EVMs to anyone else”. It may also be ensured that separate design shall be made for selling electronic voting machines (EVMs) to others, including to State Election Commissions, foreign electoral management bodies and others, the circular stated.
The matter was discussed during the all India conference of State Election Commissioners, held on November 8-9, 2017 at Hanuwantiya, Madhya Pradesh and a copy of the minutes of the meeting was received recently in reply to RTI query filed by Bhopal-based social activist Ajay Dubey. “Since election process for both Election Commission of India and State Election Commissions (SECs) are the same, therefore, it was not understood as to why ECI has directed Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) not to sell their designated machines to anyone without their permission,” the minutes of the meeting said.
“Different designs of EVMs for use by the ECI and SECs, will further create confusion both among the voters and the political parties about the use and credibility of the machines,” it said, adding on same election process and use of EVMs during the election, there should be uniform pattern of EVMs to be used by ECI and SECs. Both the ECI and SECs acquire their EVMs from BEL and ECIL only. “Thus, there cannot be different designs of EVMs with the same manufacturers to be used by ECI and SECs,” the minutes of the meeting said. During the meeting, it was decided to take up the matter with the Election Commission of India for further clarification.