The Bombay High Court Tuesday directed the Pune collector to collect a copy of the report prepared by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, relating to allegations of tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Parvati constituency in Pune during the 2014 assembly elections.
The court passed the orders after the government pleader informed the court that the report relating to the EVMs, belonging to one particular booth under question, was ready according to the communication received from the Hyderabad-based forensic lab.
The High Court was hearing a petition filed by Congress candidate Abhay Chhajed, who lost to BJP’s Madhuri Misal from that constituency. He had challenged the results soon after elections in December 2014.
He then moved the High Court through an application over the EVMs in 2017, with a plea to have the EVMs in one of the booths checked for tampering. He alleged that it had registered fewer votes in his favour than he expected. Misal was the first to be declared a winner during the 2014 assembly polls.
The High Court, while hearing the matter in May, had framed nine questions for the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, to answer. It wanted the FSL to assess the EVMs and inform the court whether they could be remotely accessed and if there existed any additional memory chip with other data that could be activated to alter the results of an election.
On Tuesday, the court was informed that the FSL had completed the work. “We grant the Election Commission of India one week’s time to take instructions in the matter. Meanwhile, the collector will go to Hyderabad and collect a copy of the report,” said Justice Mridula Bhatkar.
“The Returning Officer through the collector is required to do the needful and shall place the report and other documents before the court,” added the court. The matter has been kept for hearing on July 4.
The questions put forward by the court was “whether there exists any electronic device within the EVM, which can remotely connect with external devices, with the help of infrared/bluetooth or similar technologies?’” It also wanted to know “whether the machine codes, one time programmable (OTP) codes of all the EVM machines – being sent for testing — have been tampered”.
It also questioned whether the hash values and metadata of the OTP codes are same or different. Whether the enclosed programme counter data in the control unit give the same result as declared by the Returning Officer of the Election Commission on October 19, 2014 at Parvati Assembly Constituency? Whether the EVM machines and its data have been accessed between the polling and result dates?