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Delhi HC dismisses PIL for scrapping use of EVMs for elections, imposes Rs 10,000 cost

The plea has been filed by Advocate C.R. Jaya Sukin, alleging that EVMs can easily be “hacked” or “managed” to manipulate election results. In light thereof, he sought directions for replacing EVMs with ballot papers in the forthcoming elections.

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to stop use of Electronic Voting Machines and to use ballot paper instead, in any forthcoming elections, while terming the petition as a “Publicity Interest Litigation”.

A Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh noted, “It appears that this is not a Public Interest Litigation at all. This is a ‘Publicity Interest Litigation’.”  

The plea has been filed by Advocate C.R. Jaya Sukin alleging that EVMs can easily be “hacked” or “managed” to manipulate election results. In light thereof, he sought directions for replacing EVMs with ballot papers in the forthcoming elections. 

The petitioner-in-person, submitted that most of the European countries, including France, Germany and Ireland, have rejected the use of EVMs during elections. He alleged that the Indian democracy is in danger as the EVMs could be hacked to manipulate the election results. 

Sukin brought the attention of the court to the order passed by the Supreme Court in a petition filed by him, wherein the bench granted him liberty to approach the appropriate High Court, after orally remarking that there is a need to examine the issue of the EVMS which can be done by the High Court. 

Upon being queried if the petitioner has seen the working of an EVM machine closely and if he has done any research work on the working of the EVMs, besides relying on the news items, Sukin was unable to state a satisfactory response.
The Bench, thereafter, asked him to withdraw the petition, else it will be dismissed with cost; upon which he insisted on the order of the court.

The court observed that the petition has been preferred solely by relying on certain news articles, and that the petitioner has no knowledge about the working of EVM machines, which is approved by the Election Commission of India as well by the Parliament under S.61A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

The Bench thus remarked: “Every thing (in the petition) is based upon hearsay. No research work has been done by this petitioner.” The Bench further stated that it is not even inclined to issue notice in the petition as the allegations are without any basis. “Nothing could be argued of by the petitioner concretely about the working of the EVM machine,” the Bench added.

The plea alleged that EVMs can easily be hacked, which is why a number of countries have banned the use of EVMs. The plea states: “Apart from manipulating the EVM software and replacing many hardware parts, discussions with knowledgeable sources revealed that Indian EVMs can be hacked in many ways.”

Also Read: Manipur High Court disposes of PIL on water supply to Covid-19 containment zones in state

The Bench, however, granted liberty to the petitioner to file a fresh petition with proper averments, allegations, annexures, which are based upon the research done by the petitioner. Lastly, the Bench stated: “With these observations, this writ petition is hereby dismissed with a cost of Rs 10,000 to be deposited by the petitioner within a period of four weeks.”

On a lighter note, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma remarked that the cost should be such so that it covers the expenses for a journey to Germany and back.  

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