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SC asks Centre, EC if EVMs are tamper-proof

The debate over the possibility of tampering of EVMs on Thursday echoed in the Supreme Court which decided to examine the allegations that these machines were not "foolproof" without a paper trail.

The apex court's decision came on a petition filed by Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which after the drubbing in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has claimed large scale tampering of EVMs.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Abdul Nazeer issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission of India (ECI) asking them to respond to the plea challenging the use of EVMs without a paper trail.

"Technically, we agree that any technology can be tampered with, but you have to have sufficient grounds for raising doubts, the court told senior counsel P Chidambaram, who was appearing for BSP, in an oral observation.

"The EVM itself was introduced to stop practices and larger evils like booth capturing and others. This is a work in progress, the court, which fixed the matter for further hearing on May 8, said.

The matter came up for hearing before the apex court a day after the ECI threw an "open challenge" to political parties and experts to come and try to hack the EVMs and show that they can be tampered with.

While Chidambaram claimed that almost every political party has protested against the use of EVMs, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said Congress will also intervene in the matter saying "every technology can be hacked" and this was a cause of serious concern.

Sibal's submission assumed significance as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, at a function here, was on Wednesday categorical that he had no problem with the EVMs.

His colleague and senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily had in personal remarks also said that going back to the ballot paper would be a regressive step.

While reminding Sibal that the EVMs were introduced when Congress was in power, the top court directed the Centre and ECI to respond to BSP's petition within three weeks after Chidambaram raised doubts over the accuracy of voting through EVMs only.
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