Election Commission asks Delhi Police to file FIR against self-proclaimed cyber expert who claimed 2014 polls were ‘rigged’

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Updated: January 22, 2019 8:47:50 PM

A day after a self-proclaimed cyber expert alleged that EVMs can be hacked and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were rigged, the Election Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Delhi Police.

The Election Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Delhi Police

A day after a self-proclaimed cyber expert alleged that EVMs can be hacked and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were rigged, the Election Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Delhi Police, asking it to register an FIR against him for his claims which, it said, can “create fear” in the minds of the public. In its complaint to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi District), the poll panel asked the police to investigate the matter “promptly” for violation of certain sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with spreading rumour to alarm the public and other provisions of related laws.

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“Through media reports, it has come to the notice of the Commission that allegedly one Mr Syed Shuja, on January 21 in London… claimed that he was part of the EVM design team and he can hack the EVM used in elections in India. The act of Mr Shuja is violative of IPC, particularly its section 505 (1) (b),” the EC said. The section deals with “statements conducing to public mischief” and says that “whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity” will be punished with imprisonment “which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both”.

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When contacted, DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said, “legal action will be taken” on EC’s complaint. Shuja had on Monday claimed at an event in London that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be tampered with and that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were rigged. EC said it has been conducting Lok Sabha and assembly polls using EVMs for long and the Supreme Court and various high courts have endorsed the use of the machines through their judgments. “On 3rd June, 2017, when a few political parties raised some issues regarding use of EVMs, ECI organised an open challenge for all to come forward and take an attempt to demonstrate any vulnerability of the EVMs. Nobody turned up…,” the EC letter read.

After Shuja made his claims, the EC on Monday asserted that it firmly stands by the “empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs” used in elections in India. Addressing a press conference in London via Skype, Shuja had claimed he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members. The outlandish and explosive claims, made in a cloak and dagger manner, could not be immediately confirmed.

He claimed he was part of a team at the public sector Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), which designed and developed the EVMs. He was presented at a press conference organised by the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe). Although he appeared on screen through Skype, his face was masked.

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