NAINITAL: Asserting that the EVMs aren't hackable, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday took strong exception to criticism of the Election Commission by political parties, saying the right to freedom of speech and expression does not permit levelling of unsubstantiated charges against constitutional bodies.
Rejecting the plea for staying the EVM challenge to be conducted by the Election Commission, the court left it to the wisdom of the Commission to hold the challenge on June 3.
"There is no merit in the petition and the same is hereby dismissed," the court said.
After the court's judgment, the Election Commission announced to continue with the EVM challenge in which the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist have consented to participate.
"The EVM challenge is on as scheduled. It will start at 10 a.m. The NCP and CPI-M have nominated three representatives each. The challenge will take place simultaneously in two halls," an EC spokesperson said.
For the purpose of the challenge, 14 voting machines have been brought from three states.
The High Court said: "The Election Commission has successfully held free and fair elections. We cannot permit political parties to lower the image and prestige of a constitutional body. The uncalled for criticism of Election Commission's functioning has a deleterious effect on its functioning and the same may result in lowering its morale," the court said.
Stressing the need to restore public faith in the election process at all costs, the court said: "It is the duty of the courts to preserve, promote, nurture, and maintain the independence of constitutional bodies and to insulate them from unhealthy criticism."
The court said the foundation of democracy will be weakened in case this tendency, on the part of certain sections of society to damage institutions by levelling unsubstantiated allegations, is not curbed.
"The right to freedom of speech and expression does not permit levelling of unsubstantiated charges against functionaries of constitutional bodies," it said.
The court also urged the political parties to restrain from making allegations against constitutional bodies.
"In the larger public interest, restrain all the recognised national political parties, recognised state political parties, other political parties, non-governmental organizations and individuals from criticising the use of EVMs in elections to five state assemblies even by approaching electronic media, press, radio, Facebook, and Twitter till the decision of the election petitions," the court order said.
"The results cannot be altered by activating a Trojan horse through a sequence of key presses. The ECI-EVMs cannot be physically tampered with. The EVMs use some of the most sophisticated technological features like One Time Programmable microcontrollers, dynamic coding of key codes, date and time stamping of each and every key press etc.
"These EVMs also cannot be tampered with during the course of transportation or at the place of storage. There are checks and balances to ensure tamper-proofing of EVMs," the court said.