Will preserve EVM video footage for Rampur constituency as per protocol: EC to HC

Published - May 19, 2024 02:53 am IST - New Delhi

The Election Commission (EC) has told the Delhi High Court it will preserve the video footage in respect of the EVMs for the Rampur Lok Sabha Constituency in Uttar Pradesh in accordance with the protocol.

The commission's statement came on a petition filed by lawyer Mehmood Pracha, a poll contestant from Rampur who had sought a direction to the EC for following the Manual on Electronic Voting Machines in respect of his constituency for safeguarding the video footage.

The counsel for the EC, advocate Sidhant Kumar, said in any event, the commission is bound to follow the protocol for the preservation of videography or CCTV coverage at various stages of the electoral process for every Lok Sabha constituency.

Justice Sachin Datta took the EC's stand on record and said, "No further relief is pressed for by the petitioner. The present petition is accordingly disposed of in the above terms." Earlier this month, the court had asked the EC to file an affidavit on the videography conducted and CCTV footage maintained with regard to EVMs and the guidelines being followed for preserving the video footage of the electoral process.

In the affidavit, as recorded in an order passed on May 16, the EC said steps are taken to preserve the videography or CCTV coverage at various stages of the electoral process, in accordance with the instructions stipulated in the EVM manual, and instructions passed from time to time.

It said the footage is recorded and preserved for 45 days after the declaration of poll results or till the adjudication of an election petition for all stages, including first-level check, storage in strong rooms, randomisation, commissioning of the EVMs, dispersal as well as counting.

"The petitioner confines himself to seeking that the aforementioned procedure(s)/ protocol(s) for preserving the videography/CCTV footage as per the Manual on Electronic Voting Machine (Edition 8) August 2023 be followed in respect of the 7 Rampur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh as well," the order recorded.

"Learned counsel for the respondent does not oppose the aforesaid submission of the petitioner. He submits that in any event, the respondent/ECI is bound to follow the aforesaid protocol in respect of the electoral process in every Lok Sabha constituency. The above statement is taken on record," it added.

The petitioner, who contested the Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate from Rampur, had said in his plea that after polling was held there on April 19, he requested the EC to direct for the preservation of all relevant videos recorded during the election process but did not receive any response.

The petition had said the Manual on Electronic Voting Machine, issued by the EC, provides for various safeguards for maintaining the transparency of the poll process through videography and CCTV coverage.

Asserting that the manual mandates CCTV coverage in EVM warehouses and strong rooms, the petitioner had said it is imperative to protect the footage for 45 days from the date of the election of the returned candidate in case an election petition is filed in terms of section 81 of the Representation of the People Act.

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