CIC rebukes Election Commission for not replying to RTI on EVMs since 2023

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has come down heavily on the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not replying to a Right to Information (RTI) Act filed last year regarding the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The order was passed recently by Chief Information Commissioner Heeralal Samariya on a second appeal arising out of an RTI application filed by retired civil servant MG Devasahayam in November 2022.

After perusal of case records and submissions made during hearing, the CEC observed that the poll body’s actions were in gross violation of RTI Act and called for written explanations from the officers concerned.

Expressing its displeasure over the conduct of the then PIO in not having provided any reply to the RTI application within the time frame stipulated under the RTI Act, the Commission directed the then PIO through the present PIO to furnish a written explanation for the gross violation of the provisions of the RTI.

Devasahayam, after not receiving a reply within 30 days and no response on first appeal either, had moved the CIC in March last year.

The RTI application sought the following information regarding a representation sent to the ECI by a group of eminent citizens.

It raised questions on the credibility of EVMs and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines during polls and compliance of EVMs with democratic principles.

The RTI request sought the following details with regard to the representation:

  1. Names and designations of persons to whom the representation was forwarded/ or shared.
  2. Names of public authorities to whom the representation was forwarded/ or shared.
  3. Details of any meeting held by the ECI where the issues raised in the representation were discussed indicating the following particulars – a. Date of meetings b. Names and designations of persons who attended c. Copy of minutes/deliberations of the meetings
  4. Copy of all correspondence/ communication related to the representation.
  5. Copy of all file notings related to the representation.
  6. I would like to Inspect all the information and records held by the ECI regarding the action taken on the representation. Kindly let me know the date, time and venue for the inspection.

After the applicant received no response from both ECI and the first appellant authority, second appeal was filed before the CIC.

The ECI in second appeal claimed that the RTI application had not been received and also said the necessary data would be shared within a month.

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