The Election Commission on Monday stuck to its charge that the Congress had made attempts to “malign” its image by fudging documents to allege discrepancies in voters’ lists.
“I stand by what I had said earlier,” senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the Commission, told a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, which was hearing petitions by Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot, alleging duplication of names in the voters’ lists of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and seeking random verification of VVPAT machines in the upcoming elections in these states.
The court reserved its order on the petitions on Monday. Singh told the bench that EC had taken note of the allegations of the Congress regarding the voters’ list and had undertaken corrective measures in this regard. This was evident from Commission’s communication of June 8 this year, he pointed out, and added that despite this, the Congress alleged discrepancies in their petition in September and this was a clear attempt to malign the institution. The party’s leaders had “casually filed something” to “malign” and “denigrate” the poll panel, he said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the petitioners, opposed this. He referred to alleged discrepancies and duplication in the voters’ list and referred to four assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh. He submitted that 36 voters who had different details had the same photographs. This, he said, assumed significance given that several lakhs of fake voters were detected in Madhya Pradesh alone and about 24 lakh names had been deleted from the state’s rolls.
Kamal Nath’s plea sought directions to the EC to publish the voters’ list in a “text format as per rules” instead of PDF format. He also wanted the court to ask the poll body to randomly verify VVPAT slips with EVM votes in 10 per cent of randomly selected polling stations in every constituency. The EC in its affidavit had justified giving the draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh, saying this was done to prevent manipulation of the electors’ data. The Commission also sought dismissal of the petitions.