ANI Photo | “EVMs, VVPATs are matter of concern for…all”: Jairam Ramesh replies to EC’s letter

Responding to the Elections Commission’s latest letter, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said that queries on Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), are a matter of “concern” for not just the INDIA bloc but for all the parties.
The reply comes after the EC refuted Ramesh’s allegations on VVPAT and EVM and said that the Commission has “full faith” in the use of EVMs in the election.
“I have received the ECI’s response to my letter of December 30th, 2023 sent on behalf of the INDIA Parties. I had made an express request for an appointment for the INDIA Party leaders with the Commission. I even specified the agenda for appointment discussion and suggestions on the usage of VVPATs for upcoming elections,” Jairam Ramesh replied to the Election Commission on Sunday.
Seeking a meeting with the EC of a “small delegation of INDIA bloc” to “listen to what it has to say on the issue of VVPATs”, Ramesh said the poll body’s response has “yet again failed” to provide a “substantive response” to their queries and genuine concerns on EVMs.
Ramesh further said that the Commission has been repeatedly directing us to generic ECI FAC as the answer book for all queries in respect of EVMs and VVPATS.
“Yet, when we informed your Commission that our concerns remain unaddressed by the FAQs, your Commission, instead of offering clarification, labelled our query as based on an “inadequate or incorrect” appreciation of the FAQs and EVE resource material,” he added.
Congress General Secretary further said that this illustrates and underscores exactly why we have been asking th Commission for an audience, to discuss these unresolved and legitimate queries.
“Your point-blank refusal to even engage with political participants or EVMs or VVPATs is a matter of grave concern for all political parties and not just those who belong to the INDIA alliance,” he said.
“It is also surprising to note that the Commission has been taking refuge behind judicial orders while also reminding us that Public Interest Litigations filed on the issue of EVMs and VVPATs have been dismissed with monetary costs. Be that as it may, these litigations have no bearing on the queries raised,” Ramesh asserted.
He further said that the Commission is well aware that the pendency of any judicial proceedings pertaining to VVPATS does not bar the Commission from discussing or hearing the suggestions of INDIA Parties.
“There is no judicial order that restrains this Commission from meeting the INDIA Parties’ leaders on the issue of EVMs or VVPATS,” he added.
He said the request has been made by a political bloc, which has given Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers and a large number of distinguished leaders and commanded over 60 per cent of votes in the 2019 elections. “Yet the Commission continues to deny these parties any opportunity to meet with it. This is most unfortunate and to put it very mildly, unprecedented,” he said.
He further urged the Commission to meet a small delegation of INDIA parties and listen to what parties have to say on the issue of VVPATS.
“Therefore, with the upcoming General Elections scheduled to be held soon, I once again respectfully request the Commission meet with a small delegation of INDIA parties and at least listen to what it has to say on the issue of VVPATS,” he said.
Earlier on January 5, EC refuted Ramesh’s allegations on Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
Responding to Congress leader, the ECI stands firm asserting that literature in the public domain on EVM including the latest updated FAQs (85 Questions) answers all reasonable and legitimate aspects of the use of EVMs adequately and comprehensively.
“The current letter dated 30th December 2023, said to be in sequence of the earlier letters, has no new assertions or reasonable and legitimate doubts which require further clarifications,” it said.
The Election body further stated that current EVMs in use in Indian elections are compliant with the extant legal framework created and strengthened by the successive Union Governments of the day and jurisprudence evolved over 40 years by the Constitutional Courts of India.
The Commission further said that based on the outcomes of the elections conducted using EVMs, legal framework, established jurisprudence, technical security and administrative safeguards, the Commission has full faith in the use of EVMs in elections.
“It is beyond any explanation that out-of-context references are being made to other Countries and their Constitutional Courts about the use of EVMs in elections. Based on the outcomes of the elections conducted using EVMs (Annexure-II), legal framework, established jurisprudence, technical security and administrative safeguards, the Commission has full faith in the use of EVMs in elections,” it stated.
Earlier on January 2, Jairam Ramesh wrote a letter to the Election Commission seeking an appointment to meet the delegation of INDIA bloc leaders to discuss the issue of Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).
The fourth meeting of the Opposition’s INDIA bloc, held in Delhi on December 19, 2023, passed the resolution on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the suspension of MPs from Parliament

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