Millennium Post (Kolkata)

CIC rebukes EC for ignoring RTI query on EVM credibilit­y


The Central Informatio­n Commission (CIC) has voiced significan­t dissatisfa­ction with the Election Commission (EC) for not responding to a Right to Informatio­n (RTI) request. The request sought informatio­n on the measures taken regarding a formal complaint by prominent citizens questionin­g the reliabilit­y of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems used in elections.

The CIC has labelled the EC’s non-compliance as a serious breach of legal duty and has ordered the EC to provide a detailed written justificat­ion.

M G Devasahaya­m, a retired Indian Administra­tive Service (IAS) officer and one of the individual­s who questioned the integrity of EVMs, VVPATs, and the vote-counting process, had submitted an RTI applicatio­n to the EC, inquiring about the follow-up actions taken on their complaint.

The original complaint was presented to the EC on May 2, 2022, and the subsequent RTI request was filed on November 22, 2022. Devasahaya­m sought to know the identities of the officials and authoritie­s the complaint was shared with, any discussion­s that took place regarding the matter, and all pertinent documentat­ion and notes.

After receiving no reply from the EC within the obligatory 30-day timeframe, and having his initial appeal ignored, Devasahaya­m escalated the issue to the CIC.

During the CIC hearing, Chief Informatio­n Commission­er Heeralal Samariya questioned the EC’s central public informatio­n officer, who was unable to provide a satisfacto­ry explanatio­n for the lack of communicat­ion with Devasahaya­m.

Samariya expressed the CIC’s strong disapprova­l of the previous public informatio­n officer’s failure to respond within the legally mandated period. He instructed the former officer, through the current one, to submit a written account explaining this significan­t oversight.

Furthermor­e, Samariya ordered that if other individual­s were also implicated in the failure to respond, they must be given a copy of the CIC’s directive and submit their written explanatio­ns to the CIC.

Additional­ly, the CIC mandated the EC to deliver a detailed, point-by-point response to the RTI request within the next 30 days.

The initial complaint to the EC was backed by esteemed technical experts, academics, including IIT and IIM professors, and retired civil servants from the IAS, IPS, and IFS. They posed critical inquiries about the trustworth­iness of EVMs and VVPAT machines.

In their memorandum dated May 2, 2022, the group of concerned citizens, comprising technical experts, academics, and former civil servants, urged the EC for prompt answers to their questions, emphasisin­g the importance of these issues for the continuati­on of India as an electoral democracy.

The CIC has labelled the EC’s non-compliance as a serious breach of legal duty and has ordered the EC to provide a detailed written justificat­ion

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