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Writ against Election Commission’s EVM Challenge

Writ against Election Commission’s EVM Challenge
Polling officers with EVMs at a training camp ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. Photo: UNI
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A writ petition has been filed in the High Court of Uttarakhand claiming that the Election Commission’s (EC) EVM Challenge, to be held on June 3, is unconstitutional, because the poll watchdog has no constitutional power to do so.

In his petition, filed on May 31, Dr Ramesh Pandey, a private citizen, has claimed that “The use of the EVMs which had been utilized in the 2017 Assembly Elections in the proposed EVM challenge to allay any doubt about tamperability (sic) of the EVMs is completely unconstitutional and beyond jurisdiction of the Election Commission.”

It may be recalled that India Legal News had published an article on May 31 in which Devadatt Kamat, Additional Advocate General of Karnataka and a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court, has opined  that the EC may be overstepping its constitutional authority in holding this EVM challenge.

It may also be recalled that the EC had announced this “competition” in a Press Release (dated May 20). In the release, the EC had proposed an open challenge of EVMs scheduled for June 3. Open to the challenge will be EVMs which were utilized during 2017 assembly elections in five states.

The petition further states that “The jurisdiction to allay any doubt or to decide any dispute pertaining to any election is the sole domain of the High Court under Section 80-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.  The proposed EVM challenge enables the Election Commission to clarify doubts and disputes being raised about the 2017 Assembly Elections which is entirely beyond the jurisdiction of the Election Commission.”

He further contends: “Once the elections have been conducted by the Election Commission, any doubt or dispute being raised with regard to that election can only be clarified or decided by the High Court. The attempt of the Election Commission in holding an EVM challenge amounts to pre-judging the issue and usurping the power of the High Court under Section 80-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.”

The petitioner has given a list of election cases pending with different high courts to prove his point.

The petitioner, therefore, wants this EVM challenge to be declared illegal and quashed.

Read the petition

India Legal Bureau

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