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‘Gross violation of law’: CIC pulls up EC for not replying to RTI query on EVMs

New Delhi, April 12: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has expressed ‘severe displeasure’ over the Election Commission (EC) not furnishing a reply to an RTI plea that had asked the poll panel about the action taken on a ‘representation’ given to it by eminent citizens, raising questions on the credibility of EVMs and VVPAT machines during elections.
Terming it a ‘gross violation’ of the law, the CIC has also directed the EC to submit a written explanation.
Former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer M G Devasahayam, who was one of the signatories to the representation on the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs), voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) and the vote-counting process, had filed an application with the poll panel under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, seeking details of the action taken on it.
The representation was sent to the EC on May 2, 2022.
Through the RTI application filed on November 22, 2022, Devasahayam wanted to know about the persons and public authorities to whom the representation was forwarded, details of any meetings held on the issue and all relevant file notings.
The EC did not give any response to him within the mandatory 30-day period and Devasahayam’s first appeal to senior officials was also not heard.
He approached the CIC in the second appeal, citing the lack of response from the poll panel.
When quizzed by Chief Information Commissioner Heeralal Samariya, the central public information officer of the EC failed to give a satisfactory reply on why no response was furnished to Devasahayam.
“Commission, after perusal of case records and submissions made during hearing, expresses severe displeasure over the conduct of the then PIO in not having provided any reply to the RTI application within the time-frame stipulated under the RTI Act. Therefore, commission directs the then PIO through the present PIO to furnish a written explanation for the gross violation of the provisions of the RTI,” Samariya said.
He said if others are also responsible for the omission, then the CPIO shall serve a copy of the order on them and ensure that the written submissions of such people are sent to the CIC.
Samariya also directed the EC to provide a point-wise response to the RTI application within 30 days.
Noted technical professionals and academicians, including professors from Indian institutes of technology (IITs) and Indian institutes of management (IIMs), and former civil servants, including retired IAS, IPS and IFS officers, had written to the EC posing serious questions on the credibility of EVMs and VVPAT machines.
“Through this memorandum, we, a representative group of concerned civil society members, including technical professionals, academicians and former civil servants, would like to place certain posers before the ECI that have a bearing on the very survival of India as an electoral democracy. And we would expect an urgent response to each from the ECI,” the letter dated May 2, 2022 read. (PTI)

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