The Commission also justified its decision to release only the ‘image PDF’ of the electoral roll in public domain, saying this was to protect the privacy of the voter.

The Election Commission of India on Tuesday vouched for the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the Supreme Court, citing the experience with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

The Commission also justified its decision to release only the ‘image PDF’ of the electoral roll in public domain, saying this was to protect the privacy of the voter.

In a counter-affidavit filed in the apex court, the Commission said that VVPAT experiments since September 2017 in 843 Assembly constituencies in various states had established that there were no glitches in their functioning.

The counter-affidavit filed through its counsel Amit Sharma said that mandatory verification of paper trail count was conducted in these seats during the counting process for Assembly elections in Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and other by-elections “and in all cases, the slip count has tallied with the electronic count”.

On its decision to release only the ‘image PDF’ of the electoral roll in public, the EC said it had passed on “guidelines” in this regard to its field officers on January 4 this year and that this was a “conscious policy decision to protect the privacy of the elector as well as to prohibit profiling of electors in view of certain complaints made before the Election Commission of India as well the global challenges to electoral integrity”.

“The objective behind this guideline is to utilize the most advanced technological tools for dissemination of the electoral rolls in order to prevent manipulation of the electors data and even if it may not be achievable cent per cent, this guideline has been made with the hope that the use of most advanced technology will at least create the greatest hurdle in electors profiling,” the Commission said.

Congress leader Kamal Nath had approached the apex court alleging discrepancies in the electoral list for Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly polls are scheduled later this year, and demanding that the list be released in “text” format.

On this, the affidavit added it had followed the rules and that “so long as the Election Commission of India is providing the Electoral Rolls in accordance with the concerned Rules, it is no one’s legal right to demand the electoral roll in a particular format which is against a conscious policy decision taken by the ECI”.

The affidavit also sought to allay “unfounded apprehensions” on supply of VVPATs for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and said that the requirement of EVMs as well as VVPATs will be completed by September 2018 and before November 2018, respectively.

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