Supreme Court Debates EVM Security Amid Calls for Transparency


The Supreme Court of India engaged in a probing discussion regarding the security of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during a recent hearing, highlighting concerns raised by petitions seeking enhanced transparency in the electoral process. The bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta delved into crucial questions surrounding the reliability of EVMs and the necessity of stringent safeguards.

Amidst petitions urging the tallying of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with votes cast through EVMs, the Court grappled with the fundamental issue of whether it could issue directives based solely on suspicion, lacking concrete evidence of hacking or manipulation. Expressing skepticism, the bench sought clarity from the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the integrity of EVMs.

The Court emphasized the need for caution in assessing the need for electoral reforms, noting that unwarranted suspicion could undermine public confidence in the electoral process. However, it also acknowledged the importance of ensuring robust safeguards to fortify the current system.

While the Court deliberated on potential measures to strengthen EVM security, it ruled out a return to ballot papers, affirming the inevitability of modern electoral technology. Nonetheless, it expressed a willingness to explore avenues for enhancing the existing framework.

The petitioners, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and others, underscored the urgency of addressing perceived vulnerabilities in EVMs, citing concerns about the reprogramming of microcontrollers and potential risks to the integrity of the electoral process. Despite assertions by the ECI counsel that EVMs were tamper-proof, the petitioners contended that certain aspects of the technology remained susceptible to manipulation.

In response, the Court sought clarification from the ECI on critical issues such as the programmability of microcontrollers and the adequacy of storage facilities for EVMs. The ECI reiterated its assurances regarding the security of EVMs, emphasizing stringent protocols governing their usage and storage.

As the Court deliberates on the matter, the debate over EVM security continues to resonate, with stakeholders advocating for greater transparency and accountability in the electoral process. The outcome of this legal battle holds significant implications for the future of India's democratic governance, underscoring the imperative of balancing technological innovation with electoral integrity.

Author: Anushka Taraniya 

News writer, MIT ADT University