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EVM ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers

Representational image of electronic voting machines. File  

Amid apprehensions about the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Pune-based civic activist Maruti Bhapkar has issued legal notice through noted lawyer and rights activist Asim Sarode to the Arizona-based Microchip Technology Inc. and Renesas Electronics headquartered in Tokyo on the alleged EVM manipulation in the recent general election.

The activists contend that as the firms were engaged in making microchips for the EVMs used in the election, it makes them suspects in any alleged electoral fraud that may have been committed.

In the interests of transparency and clarity, Mr. Bhapkar and Mr. Sarode say, they have demanded that the firms publicly disclose copies of their agreements or contracts made with the Election Commission of India (ECI).

“Through activists working in this field, we have come to know of four major foreign companies - two U.S.-based, one Canadian and one Japanese – that make the microchips for the EVMs used in the Lok Sabha election. As of now, we have sent legal notice to two of these reputed firms,” Mr. Sarode told The Hindu.

He said that if the firms did respond to their notice by disclosing their contracts, then the precise nature of their work assigned to them by the ECI could be ascertained. “By studying these agreements or contracts, we can also determine the degree of interference - if any - of such firms in the electoral process.”

Mr. Bhapkar said, “The EVMs used in the Lok Sabha election have microchips made by foreign firms which are also leading providers of Micro-controllers, analog field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and power management semiconductors. Given the number of reasonable doubts raised over EVM tampering in the recent Lok Sabha election, these firms become suspects in any election fraud committed through electronic machines until proven otherwise.” The companies could help dispel lingering suspicion over the EVMs by exhibiting copies of their contract in the public domain.

Notice sent to CEC too

Mr. Bhapkar, a former corporator of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and who has been associated with both the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiv Sena, has also sent a legal notice to the Chief Election Commissioner for alleged breach of constitutional mandate as given in Article 324 of the Constitution

Mr. Sarode said Article 324 mandated the ECI to conduct elections under their superintendence, directions and control.

“Under such a constitutional provision, there is no scope for outsourcing the work of conducting elections to any individual third party [company]. If this mandatory government responsibility is assigned to any non-governmental company, then it tantamounts to illegal activity.” Use of EVMs in the election process was nothing less than “a white collar crime,” he alleged.

The very fact that the ECI had set up teams to probe mismatch between Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips and the EVM count demolished the infallibility of EVMs, said Mr. Sarode.

Both the activists said the purpose behind sending legal notice to these firms was to try and secure national as well as international support on the matter of EVM tampering and that the possibilities of approaching courts in the U.S. or Japan could then be explored with a view to initiating legal proceedings against any wrongdoers.

Mr. Sarode further said the Supreme Court in Germany, along with courts in a number of countries, had ruled that voting through EVM was unconstitutional. “The use of voting machines to electronically record votes and electronically ascertain election results only meets the constitutional requirements if the voting process and the final result can be ascertained and examined reliably and without any specialist knowledge of the subject.”

Lack of technical knowledge regarding EVMs always posed daunting difficulties for any individual in the Indian electoral system wishing to cross-check poll results, he added.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 8:06:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/evm-tampering-activists-send-legal-notice-to-foreign-microchips-makers/article28723586.ece

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