Paper trail machine matter on Cabinet agenda on 19 April

Posted April 19, 2017

When the EC showed its inability to provide upgraded EVMs manufactured after 2006, the SEC was planning to hold the entire urban bodies poll through ballot, while its earlier plan was to hold the polls for 14 corporations through EVMs and the rest through ballot.Now, that EC has agreed to provide post-2006 machines, the corporation polls would be held through EVMs, says state election commissioner SK Agarwal. AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently, in a tweet, alleged that "elections with Generation 1 EVMs (which are not VVPAT-compatible) is making a mockery of voters".

Funds for VVPATs, which are attached to EVMs, were not released in one go because the implementation was meant to take place in a phased manner, the official said. Meanwhile, the EC has thrown an open challenge in May asking people to try to hack the EVMs. Asked if Congress would boycott elections in case the government did not meet its demand of VVPATs, Singhvi said he would not at all suggest that at this stage.

During the hearing, the AAP said "the decision to conduct the 2017 civic polls using generation-1 EVMs is wholly illegal, arbitrary, perverse, whimsical and amounts to colourable exercise of power".

The government was responding to the EC's allegations that the law ministry had ignored its repeated reminders for release of funds for VVPAT machines as directed by the court.

VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for.

The cost is estimated at Rs 3,174 crore.

Introduced in 1998 in some part of the country, EVMs fast-tracked India's poll process.

The Delhi High Court bench of Justice A.K. Pathak asked the authorities to file counter affidavits and agreed to hear the matter on April 21.

Last year, Zaidi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi drawing his attention to the funds needed for the machines.

"Only one nation, South Africa, apart from India continues to use EVMs", he said, adding that even the BJP and its senior party leaders L K Advani have raised doubts over their efficacy. Also, at that time, there was no issue relating to EVMs.

"This logic is not just flawed but emanates from gross failure to seriously introspect the cause of defeat and is an insult to popular verdict", the minister said.