Charges of duplication of votes misleading, EC tells SC
New Delhi : The Election Commission on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that allegations about the presence of large-scale duplicate votes in electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are "misleading and misconceived".
The poll panel asserted that it had always upheld the integrity and purity of the electoral process and was committed to holding "free and fair elections".
"The ultimate decision-making authority rests with the Election Commission of India and it cannot be compelled to follow the directives of any particular party or person," the EC told the court as it described a Congress petition on the matter as "misconceived and mala fide and an abuse of the process of law".
Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot had moved the apex court about a large number of duplicate votes in the electoral rolls of the two states which will go to Assembly polls this year.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress leaders claimed, there are about 60 lakh duplicate votes.
Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot are President of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan units of the Congress respectively.
Seeking dismissal of the two petitions with costs, the Election Commission, however, admitted that during updation of the electoral rolls between January 19 and July 31, "there was a net deletion of around 24 lakh entries from electoral rolls and it is also correct that more than two lakh photo entries were flagged as unclear/blank/repeated photos".
It said that out of these two lakh photo entries, as many as 104,284 were found to be valid. Only 97,687 entries had to be corrected during the updation of the electoral rolls.
The Commission denied malfunctioning of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails wherein votes were recorded in favour of one party.
Describing as "complete conjecture and figment of imagination" the allegation that EVMs and VVPAT were wrongly recording the votes, the Commission said: "Malfunction of an EVM by recording an incorrect vote or of a VVPAT by printing an incorrect vote is a complete conjecture and figment of imagination as no such instance has ever happened during the entire period of use of these machines.
"In no event has the VVPAT ever displayed a false tally or manipulated the vote count in any manner. This is physically impossible in the same way that a printer cannot alter the text of the document it is printing," asserted the commission.
Saying that VVPATs fail on account of malfunction in its mechanical or electronic parts, the commission asserted that in the event of failure, "VVPAT will stop working entirely".