NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India claimed in the Supreme Court on Thursday that attempts were being made to malign the poll panel and get favourable order by fabricating the documents in a case filed by Congress leader Kamal Nath with regard to Madhya Pradesh assembly elections.
The top court took strong exception over the claims of the poll panel and warned that it may summon the company which has allegedly made public the data of voters and pointed out the duplication.
The Congress leader said that there is nothing wrong in the submission of the documents and the data of duplicate voters, as pointed out by a private company, has been given to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for ECI, to verify from Rawat whether such documents were given to him or were directly given in the court.
During the hearing, Singh said, "It is something serious which I want to point out to the court and the act is covered under section 193 of IPC (punishment for false evidence). Somebody should be seriously hauled up for this."
He submitted some papers with regard to voters in Madhya Pradesh and said that an impression was given based on fabricated documents that there were bogus voters.
"Some private company called 'politics.In' has published the data of voters with pictures which the ECI does not do. The petitioner herein has submitted the data relying on such fabricated documents to get a favourable order and malign the Election Commission of India," Singh said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Kamal Nath, said that there is nothing wrong as the data was in public domain and the petitioner has submitted it to the Rawat as well.
"We have brought it to the notice of Election Commission of India and they have even replied to our representation. What's wrong in pointing it out," Sibal said.
He said that same data was carried and published by electronic and print media also as it was widely available in public domain.
The court said that if the documents were handed over to the ECI also, then it will change the course.
"You please verify with the CEC OP Rawat and inform us by October 8," the bench said and adjourned the hearing of the matter.
On September 20, the apex court had deferred the hearing on Nath's plea seeking draft voter list of Madhya Pradesh in word format, and said the issue requires substantive hearing.
The Congress leader had said that ECI had provided voter lists in word format during Karnataka and Rajasthan elections as also during Madhya Pradesh assembly polls in 2013.
ECI said it received complaints of voter profiling and to prevent the misuse of data it has taken a conscious decision to provide it in PDF format (non-editable).
Nath had said that when the ECI can provide the draft voter list in word format in other states, then what is the problem in providing the list in Madhya Pradesh.
ECI had said that they have received complaints of voter profiling and therefore a conscious decision was taken to provide the draft list in PDF format.
The poll panel said it was done to thwart any attempt of misuse of voters data.
On September 18, the poll panel in its affidavit had justified providing the draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without any pictures of voters and said that it was done to prevent manipulation of the electors data.
It had sought dismissal of petition filed by Nath alleging duplication of names in the voters list as "not maintainable", "completely frivolous" and "an abuse of the process of court".
Referring to the rule of Manual of Electoral Roll, the ECI in its reply on the petition said the draft roll is being put in public domain at the Chief Electoral Officer's website in PDF format and it contains only text and no photographs against the elector's detail.
The poll panel had termed providing of draft electoral rolls in word format in Rajasthan as an "inadvertent error" and in contravention of rules and for the same, necessary action has been initiated by the ECI and the CEO, Rajasthan has been replaced.
With regard to the allegation of 60 lakh duplicate voters being found in draft electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh, the poll panel said that it has already been replied to the All India Congress Committee after the receipt of field verification report carried out by the CEO of MP.
"Insofar as the allegation of 60 lakhs duplicate, multiple entries are concerned, it is revealed on verification that the complaint is based on limited parameters of common name, relation and gender. It is significant to mention that the other necessary parameters of age and photo have not been included by the complainant in reaching the said figure of 60 lakhs," it said.
The apex court had on August 23, sought reply of poll panel on the petitions filed by Nath and Sachin Pilot.
Nath in his plea, filed through advocate Varun Chopra, had also alleged that in a survey conducted by him in Madhya Pradesh, over 60 lakh fake voters have been found.