In an important development, the Bombay High Court has ordered a forensic scan of electronic voting machines used in the 2014 Assembly Elections, specifically booth number 185 in Parvati (Assembly Constituency), Pune.
Justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing an election petition filed by one Abhay Chajed ,who was the Congress candidate in 2014 Assembly elections and lost against BJP’s Madhuri Misal. Chajed opposed Misal’s victory as he had expected a lot more votes.
In his petition Chajed sought examination of EVMs used during that election. Justice Bhatkar allowed his plea with regard to booth number 185.
On May 4, the plea was allowed and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, was directed to submit a report on or before May 15.
In an order dated May 5, following nine questions were framed by the court for FSL, Hyderabad:
(i) Whether there exists any electronic part/ device within the EVM, which can remotely connect with external devices, with the help of infrared/ blue tooth or similar technologies?
(ii) Whether there exists any additional memory chip inside EVMs to store any programme counter data inside the EVM machine?
(iii) Whether the machine codes (one time programmable (OTP) codes) of all the exhibit EVM machines have been tampered?
(iv) Whether the hash values and metadata of the aforesaid machine codes (one time programmable (OTP) codes) are the same or different?
(v) Whether the enclosed programme counter data in the control unit give the same result as declared by the Returning Officer of the Election Commission dated 19.10.2014, at Parvati assembly constituency?
(vi) Whether the EVMs and its data have been accessed in any manner during the period from the date of polling and date of result?
(vii) Whether there is any evidence or material indicating tampering or manipulation of the EV machines i.e., the counting unit and the ballot unit along with the connecting cables either from any internal or external remote device or source?
(viii) Is there any reason as a result of which the votes cast in favour of the candidate would either not be recorded or may be recorded in favour of another candidate inspection and evaluation of the EV machines and its components?
(ix) Is it possible to find out how many such votes are cast? If yes, then how many and in whose favour?
What makes this order significant is that the Supreme Court has already issued notice to the Centre as well as the Election Commission on a PIL seeking a paper trail for EVMs to avoid tampering.
The petitioner will be bearing the expenses incurred for the forensic examination and matter will now be listed on June 6.
Read the Orders here.