Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking audit of software used in Electronic Voting Machines

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The Supreme Court refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Friday, which sought an independent audit of the software used in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra dismissed the application on the grounds that the matter concerned sensitive policy issues.

It said that everything put out in the public domain from the Supreme Court went through a security check.

Since the source code of the software could not be put in public domain, as it would make the EVMs susceptible to hacking, the Apex Court declined to hear the plea.

Appearing as party-in-person, petitioner Sunil Ahya contended that the source code was like the ‘brain’ of the EVMs and thus, it was required to be audited.

He pointed out that there existed no formal audit report of the source code in any public domain and even when he filed an RTI application seeking for the same, the Election Commission of India (ECI) could not provide him with the same.

The petitioner further said that he made three representations to the ECI but to no avail.

The Apex Court noted that the Commission was authorised to conduct elections under Article 324 of the Constitution, adding that no actionable material has been placed before it to show that the poll body has acted in breach of its constitutional mandate.

It further observed that the petitioner had earlier moved a similar plea before the 2019 general elections. Back then, it was held that due to impending elections, it was not possible to get into the plea.

Ahya claimed that he had filed a PIL on the issue in 2020 as well. He was permitted to make a representation before the ECI.

The petitioner further said that since the poll body failed to respond to his representations, he moved the Supreme Court.

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