Hackathon of EVMs: EC to seek political parties' suggestions
Amid the uproar over the vulnerability of the Electronic Voting Machines, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday released the agenda for an all-party meeting, which is scheduled to be held on Friday (May 12). At the meeting, the poll panel would seek suggestions from total 55 political parties, including seven national recognised parties, about the methodology to conduct a hackathon of voting machines.
It's pertinent to mention here that political outfits like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), All India Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), JD(U), etc have been demanding to do away with EVMs in elections alleging that the voting machines are not tamperproof. On the contrary, the poll panel has defended the EVMs saying that EVMs cannot be tampered with.
Among the invitees include Arvind Kejriwal's AAP which has been lobbying shrilly against the EVMs that are currently in use. Kejriwal said that the machines were manipulated to ensure he lost February's election in Punjab and that the commission was complicit in the conspiracy with the BJP, which came to power in states like Uttar Pradesh with unprecedented margins.
The agenda of the meeting includes deliberations on the issue of the EVMs security and procedure/processes of the "tampering" challenge. Some suggestions on revisiting the rules pertaining to counting of paper slips from the VVPAT system will also be discussed, the agenda note stated.
The proposal of making the crime of bribery and undue influence during elections a cognisable offence tops the list. The poll panel has also moved a proposal to amend the Representation of the People Act by inserting a specific Section 58-B that would empower the commission to take appropriate action including countermanding of an election where incidents of bribery of electors take place.
The EC has also proposed that anyone, against whom charges of the offence of bribery are framed, he or she should be disqualified from contesting elections.
The poll panel has proposed that for offences punishable by imprisonment of five years or more for a case registered at least six months earlier, disqualification should commence from the stage the charges are framed by the court.
Stressing on transparency in the funding of political parties, the EC has put in its agenda to restrict donations in cash upto Rs 20 crore or 20 per cent of the total donations in a year, while for cash donations, income tax exemption should also be accordingly restricted and anonymous donations above Rs 2,000 should be prohibited.