Lok Sabha election 2024: DMK moves Madras High Court questioning new design of EVMs

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) party has moved the Madras High Court questioning the design of the third generation M3 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The petition moved through the Organisation Secretary RS Bharathi, stated that the present model, in which the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is placed between the Balloting Unit and the Control Unit could pave the way for discrepancies and corrupt practices in the election. It asserted that fixing the Symbol Loading Unit (SLU) in the VVPAT is in clear violation of the Conduct of Election Rules.

It also noted that as per the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, the Balloting Unit and the Control Unit of the Electronic Voting Machine have to be placed in direct contact with each other and thus placing the VVPAT printer in between the two is in violation of Rules 49A, 49B (4), 49E and 49T of the 1961 Rules.

Furthermore, the plea underlined that by placing the printer in the middle, the printer will be sending the data to the Control Unit and thus the recording of the vote will be dependent on the printing unit and there would be no guarantee that the input signal received by the printer from the balloting unit would be maintained. Hence, such fixation could pave the way for corruption of data affecting the integrity, the plea explained.

The plea also noted that while Rule 56D of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 mandates the Election Commission of India (ECI) to issue guidelines governing the application for counting of printed paper slips, no such guidelines have been issued so far giving unguided and untrammeled discretion to the returning officer to decide such applications arbitrarily. It claimed that since no appeal has been provided for under Rule 56D, the powers given to the returning officer are unreasonable.

In addition, it also underscored that no procedure has been laid down for approval of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) by the Election Commission and the absence of procedure renders the existing process of approval of EVMs arbitrary and non-transparent.

The DMK has asked the court to direct the ECI to formulate guidelines laying down a procedure for approving the EVMs and a further direction not to place the printer between the Balloting Unit and the Control Unit contrary to the existing rules.

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