The Election Commission, amidst the ongoing electronic voting machines (EVMs) controversy, held a meeting with all recognized National and State Political parties at Constitution Club, New Delhi on Friday. 07 National Parties and 35 State Parties attended the meeting.
ECI discussed the following issues in the meeting:
(i) EVMs and VVPATs. (ii) Making Bribery in Elections a Cognizable Offence. (iii) Disqualification on Framing of Charges for the Offence of Bribery in Elections (iv) Suggestions on VVPAT Recount Rules.
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. Nasim Zaidi emphasized on the neutral stand and equidistance of ECI from all political parties as it has no favourites. He also said that such evenhandedness has enhanced India’s reputation in the eyes of Global Community.
Addressing the questions raised on the independence of two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, he remarked,
“You should be convinced that EC has no favorites…we maintain equidistant from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead center of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties (7 national and 49 state recognized parties),”
Notably, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had raised the EVM issue in Lok Sabha on Thursday. He commented that Election Commission should clear all doubts concerning the machine, including if the EVMs’ software is tamper-proof.
As per a PTI report, he replied to the press, “The doubts raised about the EVMs should be dispelled. Any issue putting a question mark on the democratic system should be dealt with all seriousness,”
In the meeting, CEC also informed the political representatives that the Commission will hold a challenge and offer opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that EVMs used in the recently concluded Assemblies elections were tampered OR that EVMs can be tampered even under the laid down Technical & Administrative Safeguards.
Most importantly, he stated that the Commission will ensure 100% coverage of VVPATs in all future elections to the Parliament and State Assembly Elections.
“The Commission has stated before the political parties that all the future elections will be mandatorily held with VVPAT,” Dr. Zaidi told reporters after meeting.
Besides this, he conveyed that ECI will soon evolve a framework in this regard. To make the election process more transparent, the Commission has made proposal for electoral reforms on misuse of money power and bribery during elections.
The Commission has also made proposal for amendments in the Income Tax Act and in the RP Act, 1951, for enhancing transparency in the funding of political parties.
(As stated by the ECI-Press Note of the meeting today)
To know more about VVPATs download the manual from here: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/ElectoralLaws/HandBooks/Manual_on_EVM_VVPAT_27052016.pdf