The DMK on Wednesday moved the Madras High Court with a plea to restrain the Election Commission from using electronic voting machines that were beyond the expiry period of 15 years, in the April 6 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls.
The other prayers of the DMK, represented by its Organisation Secretary R S Bharathi, were to provide CCTV live coverage/web-stream during voting in all the polling booths and voting centres, to install jammers at the strong rooms, where EVMs are stored and at the counting centres. The opposition party also wanted the court to direct the Returning Officers to count at least 50% of VVPATS, simultaneously.
After listening to the preliminary arguments by DMK senior counsel P Wilson, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ordered notice to the EC, returnable by March 29.
It also directed the ECI to convene a meeting with all political parties immediately to identify the critical and vulnerable booths for fixing CCTV cameras for video graphing the polling. The judges also wondered as to whether the EC would eliminate the usage of EVMs, which were more than 15 years old.
The bench also told the EC to explore whether jammers could be installed around the strong room where the EVMs are stored. When a request was made to count the VVPATs, the same might be allowed as per the rules, it added. The DMK counsel told the judges that the set of prayers were to ensure purity in the election and to uphold the democratic tradition of the country.
Tamil Nadu is set to face Assembly elections on April 6, along with the states of Kerala and Puducherry. The voting will happen in a single phase in these places, and the results will be announced on May 5. Assam and West Bengal will also see Assembly elections this year with voting taking place multiple phases. While voting will happen in three phases in Assam between March 26 and April 6, in West Bengal, the first of eight phases of voting will happen between March 27 and April 29.