New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to respond on a plea seeking to remove the provision which criminalizes the reporting of malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines, if proven false.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gagoi asked the poll panel to file its reply within two weeks.
The court was hearing a plea filed by advocate Sunil Ahya which has sought liberty to register complaint related with EVM malfunctioning.
Ahya said that on August 14 2013, the Conduct of Elections Rules, was amended to insert a new rule 49MA to prescribe a procedure to be followed in case of a complaint realted to the EVM.
Ahya told the court that Rule 49MA of the Conduct of Election Rules with Section 177 of Indian Penal Code criminalizes the reporting of malfunctioning of EVM and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), which may not be fair and just to charge a voter reporting such a complaint.
As per Rule 49MA of election rules, if the complaint is proven false, then the complainant can face jail for six months or fine.
He said this can deter a voter from coming forward and make a complaint. He said that this may also create an illusion of free and fair elections.
As it infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression, the advocate has also sought to set aside Rule 49MA of the Conduct of Election Rules, except for the procedure prescribed for the purpose of creating a statistical record of the complaints.
He also suggested that “one of the possible ways to address the issue of reporting a discrepancy in future, would be to keep the ballot unit lamp against the blue button of EVM glowing and at the same time, to let the VVPAT printed slip remain hanging in the transparent window without it being automatically cut after 7 seconds, unless the voter is completely satisfied.”
“Once the elector is completely satisfied and comes out of the polling booth, the presiding officer would then press the control unit button so as to ready the ballot unit for the next elector,” the advocate said in his plea.