August 1st, 2009 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS): Maintaining that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are "fully tamper-proof", the Election Commission Saturday invited political parties and others who have raised doubts about the credibility of the machines to come for a demonstration that would set their misgivings at rest "once and for all".
Days after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and other political leaders voiced doubts about the reliability of the EVMs that were used during the April-May Lok Sabha polls, the poll panel in a statement said: "The Election Commission remains entirely satisfied that EVMs cannot be tampered with. These are fully tamper-proof.
"So far, no one has been able to demonstrate that EVMs used by the Election Commission can be tampered or manipulated.
While "completely rejecting the contention regarding fallibility of the EVMs", the Commission said: "It has now decided to go the extra distance by inviting all those who have expressed reservations about the machine to come and demonstrate the points made in their allegations."
It invited those who had approached the courts and political parties to its headquarters in New Delhi in the first week of August for a demonstration.
The meeting would be held in the presence of technical experts as well as engineers representing the EVM manufacturers.
"The Election Commission expects that the demonstration would once and for all set at rest any misgiving anywhere in the interest of the country's electoral democracy," the statement said.
On July 27, the apex court had refused to entertain a lawsuit by an election watch group that had raised doubts about the EVMs and asked it to approach the commission first.
The commission said July 22 it had written to one of the petitioners to come and demonstrate the "so called manipulation of the EVM".
The commission said the petitioners approached them only after the Supreme Court rejected their appeal. The poll panel replied to them Friday, reiterating its invitation to them to come and demonstrate how the machine could be tampered with, as they have alleged, next week.
"EVMs have served the country's elections well. These were introduced after long ranging political, technical and administrative consultations since 1979. The use of machines has helped prevent several electoral malpractices and resulted in more efficient conduct of elections," the statement added.
The commission said judgments from various courts have upheld the use of EVMs and technical experts have endorsed the machines from time to time.
"In fact, the Karnataka High Court has hailed the EVM as 'a national pride'. Similarly, the Madras High Court, after elaborate consideration of the issue in a batch of petitions in 2001, rejected allegations that the EVMs could be tampered with," it added.
The commission said similar petitions have been filed before the Madras High Court, the Bombay High Court and the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur bench).
It reiterated that unlike the machines used by other countries, which are based on operating systems, the software in the EVM chip is one-time programmable and the programme is burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture.
"Nothing can be written on the chip after manufacture. The EVM in India is a fully stand-alone machine without being part of any network and with no provision for any input. In addition, elaborate administrative measures and procedural checks are in place to make the EVM doubly safe against any possible tampering or misuse. So, it is completely tamper proof," it said.
Advani and some other political leaders had recently sought that the Election Commission revert to the old method of using ballot papers for elections.
The BJP leaders alleged the EVMs could be tampered with, and had cited the case of Germany where the EVMs were scrapped.
Former bureaucrat Omesh Saigal, who was the first to raise the issue of the possibility of EVMs being tampered with, has also been invited by the Election Commission for a demonstration between Aug 3 and 7.