The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) may become one of the first organisations representing religious communities to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail Machines) system for casting and counting of votes during its upcoming election of Trustees.
Three of the existing five Trustees of BPP have sought from the Bombay High Court that the proposed scheme for elections should also consist of VVPAT-EVMs. The HC directed the BPP Trustees to submit a revised scheme in this regard for court’s consideration on February 22.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice M N Jadhav, earlier this month was hearing a miscellaneous plea, wherein three of the incumbent five Trustees of the BPP sought comprehensive amendments to the Scheme for Elections for all seven posts of Trustees of the BPP, along with the Code of Conduct regarding use of VVPAT- EVM for upcoming polls.
However, two of the five Trustees expressed their objection to this change in election process, claiming that casting votes by VVPAT-EVMs is “susceptible to abuse and is otherwise a financial burden on resources of the Trust.”
The three Trustees, by majority, agreed to have a clause providing the EVMs. The two dissenting Trustees said that the revised comprehensive scheme, which includes use of VVPAT-EVMs be submitted for sanction of HC, subject to their dissent being recorded and their right to be heard before the Court before such proposal is approved.
In response to the contention of EVMs being a financial burden on the Trust, a member of the Trust offered to donate Rs 1 crore to the BPP for the cost of deputing VVPAT-EVMs over and above the expenses of conducting an election by paper ballot.
The member concerned said that the donation could be in the form of a corpus to be used for the purpose of meeting the cost of deploying EVMs for the said elections.
He added that the balance amount available after the upcoming elections may be invested for meeting the cost of deploying the VVPAT-EVMS in subsequent polls. The member said that he does not propose to contest the upcoming election or second any candidature.
“Should the Trust become financially self-sufficient to meet the cost of deputing VVPAT EVMs in the future, the monies contributed by them may be used for any other charitable purpose of the Trust,” the bench noted.
The Court then asked all the present Trustees of the BPP to jointly tender a revised Scheme for Elections including Code of Conduct.
The High Court further directed the Trustees to put out a fresh public notice informing members of the community about the brief particulars of the revised scheme. It also said that any person interested in making any submissions regarding proposed amendments to the existing Scheme can do so during the next hearing on February 22.
In addition, the court clarified that once the present miscellaneous plea is disposed of, it would fix the schedule for elections for the post of all seven Trustees of the BPP.