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June 3 was the slated date of the Election Commission’s (EC) EVM challenge. Already, the event had come under the scanner as impractical and untenable. Now, as per an Uttarakhand High Court order of June 2, this impractical challenge has been stayed.

The news of this writ petition was first reported by India Legal on June 1 and the court has now observed that the EC indeed does not have the authority to undertake such an exercise.

The court has taken a serious view of the exercise and has directed the EC to conduct a full bench meeting on June 2 itself. It said that post the meeting, the EC must inform it about the plans of conducting the EVM hackathon.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had put several conditions for the challenge that made the whole idea of a technical challenge look improbable.

The conditions that the EC had laid down were as follows:

a) A complaint has said that to credit votes into a particular candidate’s account keys should be pressed in a particular sequence. The keys in the EVM machines would have to be pressed in a sequence and the results would be seen.

b) It has also been reported that EVMs can be remotely controlled after connecting the EVM through a wireless network. The EC’s position was that this is not possible, because the EVMs were standalone machines. The catch here is that the EC will not allow anybody to meddle with or replace any component. The argument was that replacing any component would amount to re-creating the device, only “visual inspection” would be allowed. How this can allow a complainant to know how the circuitry works is anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party will be going ahead with its own “challenge” on the same day. The party shied away from the EC’s hackathon when the latter refused to change its conditions.

India Legal Bureau

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