• RTI: ECIL directed to disclose information on EVM and VVPAT deployment during the 2019 general elections

    The Leaflet

    November 15, 2019

    The First Appellate Authority (FAA) of the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) has directed the company to disclose information relating to the deployment of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) during the 2019 general elections.

    The development follows the refusal by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of ECIL to provide information sought under the  Right to Information Act, 2005 by Venkatesh Nayak, head of the Access to Information Programme at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Nayak had moved an appeal before the FAA against the CPIO ruling.

    ECIL was responsible for supplying the EVMs and VVPATs that were used during the 2019 General elections.

    BEL refuses to release information; a response from ECI awaited

    Earlier, in an identical RTI application filed by Nayak, the CPIO of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) refused to share the information, claiming, among other things,  that disclosing the names of the engineers deputed to provide technical support for EVMs and VVPATs at the constituency-level would endanger their lives. The BEL’s CPIO also refused to allow access to the operational manuals relating to these machines in the same RTI application.

    In appeal, BEL’s FAA upheld the CPIO’s decision to reject the application for information about the engineers and the operational manuals used but directed the CPIO to transfer some of the queries relating to the constituency-wise details of deployment of EVMs, VVPATs and thermal paper rolls used in the VVPATs during the general elections to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

    The CPIO at the ECI has neither responded to the  transferred RTI application nor replied to an identical RTI application filed by Nayak, even after more than 40 days. Nayak has moved the FAA of the ECI in appeal.

    Information sought under the RTI applications

    Nayak filed two identical RTI application before BEL and ECIL seeking the following information:

    1. The maximum number of votes recordable on each EVM supplied for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    2. The maximum number of votes printable on each VVPAT machine supplied for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    3. The district-wise number of Control Units of EVMs transported across India for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    4. The district-wise number of Ballot Units of EVMs transported across India for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    5. The district-wise number of VVPATs transported across India for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    6. The district-wise number of thermal paper rolls used in VVPATs transported across India for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    7. A clear photocopy of the list of engineers with their name anddesignation, deputed for carrying out tasks relating to the preparation of EVMs and VVPATs that were sent to every district election officer in India for the purpose of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    8. A clear photocopy of the list ofsenior level engineers with their name and designation, deputed for supervision and coordination during the preparation of EVMs and VVPATs that were sent to every district election officer in India for the purpose of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    9. The total number of SLUs used by the team(s) of engineers during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
    10. A clear photocopy of the official document handed over to every district election officer during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections containing details of every SLU allocated to the team(s) of engineers.
    11. A clear photocopy of the User Manual prepared by the company pertaining to the VVPAT machines used during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, if any.
    12. A clear photocopy of the user manual pertaining to the SLUs used during the 2019 Lok Sabhaelections, if any.
    13. A clear photocopy of the application filed with the Office of the Patent Controller for securing a patent on VVPAT, if any, along with the postal address of such office, and
    14. A clear photocopy of the application filed with the Office of the Patent Controller for securing a patent on SLU, if any, along with the postal address of such office.

    At present, there is practically no information relating to the use of EVMs and VVPATs in the elections as the ECI and other public authorities have not been forthcoming on the subject.


    First published in The Leaflet.

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