An RTI activist in Mumbai has claimed considerable mismatch in numbers of EVMs from manufacturers and buyers raising huge concerns over the free and fair conduct of elections in India.
RTI activist Manoranjan S Roy, who pursued the matter with the concerned authorities for over a year, said that the replies by them will have severe repercussions on the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.
He’s now approached the Bombay High Court, seeking directions to all parties to provide all records/documents pertaining to EVMs. He has also asked for setting up of a suitable probe panel to ban use of EVMs till the logical outcome of the probe, reported news agency IANS.
RTI replies obtained by Roy revealed that between 1989-90 till 15 May, 2017, the Election Commission had procured a total of 1,005,662 BUs and 928,049 CUs from BEL, plus another 1,014,644 BUs and 934,031 CUs from ECIL. But the RTI reply by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice said that the government had received intimation of purchase of 1,395,306 BUs and 930,716 CUs in 2016-17 alone.
BEL, one of the manufacturers of EVMs, said on 9 June, 2017, that it supplied 125,000 CUs and 190,000 BUs to EC, from 2010 to 2017. ECIL, another manufacturer, informed that it provided 222,925 BUs and 211,875 CUs to EC from 2010 to 2017, and another 497,348 BUs and 307,030 CUs for the same period.
Roy, according to the IANS report, asked “where the excess number of EVMs are going, what is being done with them.” He said that the discrepancies of lakhs of EVMs indicated “something very suspicious is going on between these organisations.”
The IANS report also highlighted anomalies in payments as the RTI responses revealed major discrepancies in the figures from 2006-07 to 2016-17. A reply by BEL said that it had received a payment of Rs 6,525,644,000 from the EC even though the poll body said that the “actual expenditure” for the same period was Rs 5,360,175,485. This is the difference of Rs 116.55 crore.
Roy told Janta Ka Reporter that he’s also expected to get replies on Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh soon adding that the expenditure on EVMs in these two states did not add up raising more doubts on how machines have been used in election here. The RTI activist pleaded media to highlight this issue as it adversely impacted the democracy in India.
Non-BJP parties have been casting doubts on the authenticity of the EVMs used in India with many raising suspicions that the machines may have been compromised to suit one political party. What’s given credence to their suspicion is the ruling BJP’s defence for the machines even though, while in opposition, they repeatedly opposed the use of EVMs in elections.
Last year, an exclusive report by Janta Ka Reporter had established a link between those who manufactured the microchips for the EVMs and the beneficiaries of Rs 20,000 crore gas scam in Gujarat during Narendra Modi’s term as chief minister.
The role of EVMs came under immensely scrutiny last month, when the local district magistrate took an extraordinary step to stop the announcement of the counting of votes in Gorakhpur bypolls allegedly because the BJP candidate was trailing in an otherwise saffron party bastion. The DM had forced journalists and election observers to vacate the counting venue. This, according to many, was to replace the original machines with those already compromised.