SC issues notice to EC on PIL alleging tampering of EVMs

The Supreme Court today asked the Election Commission if software experts should investigate whether electronic voting machines or EVMs are tamper-proof, as sought by a petitioner.

A bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul issued the notice to the Election Commission in response to a public interest litigation filed by advocate ML Sharma.

The bench, however, refused to issue notice to the CBI to register an FIR as demanded by petitioner, who alleged that EVMs used by the commission could be easily tampered with.

Sharma wanted registration of an FIR for a probe into alleged tampering with EVMs ''for vested interest by a political party''.

After tasting defeat at the hustings, BSP chief Mayawati and AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that EVMs were tampered with and the AAP had demanded that elections to the Delhi Municipal Corporation be conducted through ballot papers. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had also demanded that the Election Commission should hold an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

EVMs were in use in almost all elections in India since these were introduced in 1999 and have replaced ballot papers in Lok Sabha, Assembly and local body polls across the country. The Election Commission has consistently maintained that EVMs are tamper-proof.

The Commission has also introduced EVMs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system. The VVPAT system was introduced in eight of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies as a pilot project in 2014 elections.

The petitioner has demanded examination of the ''quality, software/malware and hacking effect in the EVMs from a reliable electronic lab/scientist and software expert and to file their report before this court for further action/prosecution''.

Sharma also contended that the Election Commission itself had admitted that EVMs were tamper-proof only until their technical, mechanical and software details remained a secret.

''These details can be detected via reverse engineering by any expert. Wireless device/software can be prepared via reverse engineering, and with their help voting records can be changed in any location and at any time,'' the petitioner said.