EC to refer suggestion for paper backup in EVMs to experts

Acting on the suggestion of political parties for a paper backup in Electronic Voting Machines to enhance people`s confidence, the Election Commission has decided to refer the issue to its Technical Expert Committee.

New Delhi: Acting on the suggestion of
political parties for a paper backup in Electronic Voting
Machines to enhance people`s confidence, the Election
Commission has decided to refer the issue to its Technical
Expert Committee.

The Commission has decided to refer to the Technical
Expert Committee for detailed examination of `voter verifiable
paper trail` in EVMs in all its aspects through a process of
wide consultation, the EC said in a press note today.
The three-member committee headed by P V Indiresan, former
Director of IIT, Madras, would submit its report to the EC for
consideration.

The EC has decided to refer the issue to the Committee
following demands by some political parties including BJP for
a paper trail on the use of EVMs to enhance the confidence of
the voters.

Besides use of EVMs, the Commission during the meeting
with political parties early this week had discussed such as
money power in elections, paid news in connection with
elections and criminalisation of politics.

Political parties appreciated the measures and recognised
the fact that EVMs have been used effectively in elections for
more than a decade, the EC said adding there was consensus
among parties for the continued use of EVMs.

On the issue of abuse of money power in elections, the EC
said there was consensus among political parties that the
instructions of the Commission should be implemented with
firmness and cases should be pursued vigorously to book
offenders.

The EC also appealed to the parties to exercise self
regulation and restraint with regard to expenditure, it said.

The political parties also rejected the EC`s suggestion
that audit of their annual accounts be done by a Chartered
Accountant from a panel appointed by the CAG or the EC.

The parties were of the view that this was not required as
they themselves were getting their accounts audited through
their auditors and submitting annual returns to Income Tax
authorities.
Besides exploring the possibility of state funding of
elections, the parties expressed the view that the ceiling on
election expenditure should be raised in view of inflation.

The maximum limit of election expenses at present is Rs 25
lakh for a Lok Sabha constituency and Rs ten lakhs for an
assembly constituency.

Acknowledging that the recent phenomenon of "paid news"
was a serious threat to democracy, political parties agreed
that amendments might be required in the Representation of the
People Act and include it in the list of corrupt practices.

One of the steps suggested was that an Expert Committee of
eminent jurists, media persons and others be constituted by
the EC to develop effective methods of identification and
accounting of paid news, the press note said.

On the issue of criminalisation of politics, the political
parties expressed the view that no change was called for in
the present law which disqualifies a person only on
conviction.

The political parties also assured the EC that they would
exercise more self regulation in the matter while fielding
candidates, the press note added.

PTI