The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad, in its report submitted on Tuesday, told the Bombay High Court that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) sent to the laboratory for examination were not tampered with and worked as expected. The court had ordered CFSL, Hyderabad, to examine the EVMs after a Congress candidate alleged tampering of the machines in Parvati constituency of Pune, from where he contested and lost the 2014 Assembly elections to a BJP candidate.
In its three-page report, the CFSL told the court the two units sent to it functioned properly. “The exhibit control unit and the exhibit ballot unit were scanned through X-ray-viewing machine and it was observed no additional external devices were mounted and no internal devices were embedded in the questionable exhibits,” said the report.
It pointed out that the units were “forensically analysed and found they were standalone, non-networked, One Time Programmable (OTP) machine, which is neither computer-controlled nor could be connected internally or to any network. Hence, it is opined that no evidence of tampering, altering or any other manipulation could be detected”.
Congress candidate Abhay Chhajed had alleged the EVMs in two booths from his constituency had registered fewer votes in his favour than expected.
He told the court that he had received only 69 votes when 89 voters claimed in an affidavit they had voted for him. In his plea, he alleged tampering of the machines and sought examination of the EVMs in one of the booths.
Taking cognisance of the seriousness of the allegations, Justice Mridula Bhatkar, who was hearing the matter, had in May ordered the forensic examination of the EVMs used in the Assembly elections in Parvati constituency. The court had directed Pune’s district collector to send the EVMs from one of the booths to the CFSL for a thorough examination. The court had asked if there was any material evidence indicating tampering or manipulation of the EVMs.
The court had framed nine questions for the FSL to answer, including whether the device can be remotely accessed through any technology such as Infrared or Bluetooth and whether any memory chip can be inserted into the EVM to store data or alter the result of elections. It had also asked whether the hash values and metadata of the OTP codes are same or different.