Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a public interest litigation petition for a direction to appoint an expert committee to go into the working of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and submit a report to the court.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Cyriac Joseph, while dismissing the PIL, gave liberty to the petitioners to approach the Election Commission and said it was for the Commission to consider their plea.

When the CJI asked counsel Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioners V. Venkateshwara Rao and V. Laxman Reddy, associated with the Election Watch, Hyderabad, and Arunkumar Kankipati and Yagati Vasavya, experts, to approach the Commission, counsel said representation was already made and the Commission had stated that EVMs were ‘foolproof.’

The CJI said: “We can’t give any direction to the Election Commission. It is for the Commission to discuss such matters with all political parties and take a decision.” Justice Sathasivam told counsel: “We are not under-estimating the concern[s] raised in the petition but we are only saying that these issues are to be addressed to the Election Commission.”

Counsel then said petitioners should be given the liberty to move the court after the Commission passed the order. The CJI said that liberty was always there.

Mr. Parikh submitted that in several democracies of the world where EVMs were being used, there were opposition and challenges before the courts. On March 3, the German Supreme Court declared that EVMs were untrustworthy and unconstitutional. It observed: “Deliberate programming errors in the software perpetrate electoral fraud by manipulating the software of EVMs.” He said a committee could go into the working of the EVMs. The PIL said that the petitioners had analysed the election results in various constituencies conducted with the help of EVMs and found that there was something drastically wrong with them. The petitioners also referred to the Commission’s letter that out of 13.78 lakh EVMs used in the recent parliamentary elections, 9.30 lakh EVMs were old and 4.48 lakh were new machines, suggesting that improvements had been made in the EVMs.