Nation
Supreme Court to examine plea on EVMs on priority

Dr Subramanian Swamy claimed it is difficult and un-reliable to re-count votes using EVMs and cited the re-counting of votes in the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency, represented by Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, which he had won allegedly under controversial circumstances

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to take up for hearing on priority basis Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy's plea to incorporate paper printouts in electronic voting machines (EVMs) or restore paper balloting system because EVMs 'are not tamper proof', reports PTI.

 

"We will hear the matter on a priority basis so that it is concluded by the next parliamentary elections. That is the reason we are giving the priority," said a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi.

 

The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing on 27th September after hearing Swamy's submission for over an hour and asked the Election Commission (EC) to be prepared with its submission.

 

Arguing in person, Swamy made a fervent plea for reverting to the old paper-ballot system saying all advance countries in the world, including the US and Japan have discarded EVMs and gone back to the paper-ballot system.

 

The Janata Party leader said even Japan which had been a pioneer in the launch of the EVMs was today relying on the paper-ballot system only.

 

He said it was only private companies across the world which are manufacturing these EVMs, which are vulnerable to hacking.

 

India, he said, does not indigenously manufacture EVMs and was solely dependent on importing of the machines and the microchips used in them.

 

Swamy claimed it is difficult and un-reliable to re-count votes using EVMs and cited the re-counting of votes in the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency, represented by Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, which he had won allegedly under controversial circumstances.

 

The Janata Party leader also told the bench that several modern software experts, including Hari Prasad from Hyderabad, had demonstrated that EVMs can be hacked and manipulated.

 

The apex court on 7th May had sought the stands of the Centre and the Election Commission of India on Swamy's plea challenging the Delhi High Court's order dismissing his plea on the issue earlier on 17th January.

 

The high court had said, "It is difficult for this court to direct the Election Commission to have a paper trail of elections conducted through EVMs."

 

It, however, had suggested that the Commission could hold wider consultations with the executive, the political parties and other stake holders on the matter.

 

The high court had disposed of the plea saying Swamy has himself not alleged any misuse or tampering of current system but maintained that the possibility of such an incident cannot be ruled out.

 

Swamy had sought directions to the Election Commission that paper trail be incorporated to record the votes cast through EVMs or old system of paper ballots be brought back.

 

He had claimed that EVMs were not tamper proof and lacked transparency.

 

The EC had opposed the plea, saying returning to the paper ballots would not be feasible as it would require immense expenditure as there were over 73 crore eligible voters in the country.

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CBI may probe coal block allocations made during NDA rule

Holding coal bearing states, including those ruled by BJP, responsible for coal block allocations, Narayansami said about 90% work relating to allotment is vested with the states

Bhubaneswar: V Narayansami, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday said Centre is examining demands for including coal block allocations made during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule within purview of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, reports PTI.

 

"There are demands from various quarters to include coal block allocations made during BJP-led NDA rule from 1999 to 2004. Union Coal Ministry is looking into it," he said.

 

Maintaining that Centre had taken pro-active step by ordering probe into the allocations in March 2012, much before CAG gave its report, he alleged BJP is finding CBI probe "inconvenient as it fears that its own leaders would be exposed."

 

Dismissing BJP's demand for SIT probe into the alleged irregularities in coal blocks distribution, Narayansami said CBI is very much an independent agency with a reputation for impartiality, making many states recommend for probe by it.

 

"Action will be taken against anyone found guilty in CBI probe ... including chief ministers, ministers or officials," he said.

 

Holding coal bearing states, including those ruled by BJP, responsible for coal block allocations, Narayansami said about 90% work relating to allotment, starting from sending recommendations to endorsing and executing the allocation, is vested with the states.

 

Stating that 39 coal blocks were allocated during BJP-led NDA rule without following any guidelines or transparent policy, he said when UPA came to power the prime minister sought allocation of coal in a transparent way.

 

When views of states were sought, states like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal opposed auction mode, he said, adding that coal bearing states were party to allocation as the screening committee included their chief secretaries.

 

Slamming BJP for making an "unreasonable, unethical and unfair" demand for resignation of the Prime Minister, Narayansami said nowhere in the CAG report there is any mention about "any scam in coal allocation."

 

"The name of Prime Minister also does not figure, it was UPA government which framed guidelines and procedures for coal block allotment in 2005," he said.

 

He said before demanding Prime Minister's resignation, the BJP should ask its chief ministers to resign for their "role" in coal block allocation.

 

He also accused BJP of "forgetting" that its chief ministers had "strongly opposed" auction mode for allocations.

 

Hitting out at BJP for stalling Parliament over the issue, Narayansami said the impasse prevented passage of several important bills and discussion on burning issues.

 

Accusing BJP of "destabilise the government and nation" by blocking proceedings in the Parliament, Narayansami said government as well as most political parties, including many NDA allies, were in favour of debate on the coal issue.

 

"Now BJP is no more seeking prime minister's resignation but wants cancellation of coal block allocations," he said.

 

Rejecting the demand for cancellation of allocations, the Union minister said it would be unfair and unethical to do so in view of time spent and investments already made.

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Goa government mum on recovery of losses from illegal mine owners

Goa government’s soft pedalling on the issue comes as an unexpected stand considering the magnitude of the ore illegally extracted from encroachments touted to be about Rs35,000 crore

Panaji: Following Justice MB Shah Commission report on illegal iron ore mining in Goa, the state government is apparently non-committal on recovering a whopping Rs35,000 crore from the mine owners who illegally plundered the resources, reports PTI.

 

In its report, Shah Commission has pointed out around 100 encroachments outside the mining lease areas by the companies which extracted large sums of ore between 2006 to 2010.

 

The commission's report, tabled in Parliament last week, quantified the total extraction of ore from these encroachments to Rs35,000 crore.

 

The judicial panel has recommended that the money should be recovered by the state from the mine owners.

 

However, state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has been on an action taking spree against the officials involved in illegal mining operations, has remained silent over the recovery of money from the mine operators.

 

"We are still examining the report (of Shah Commission)," he said, responding to a question on recovery.

 

"We will impose penalty on the mining firms which have encroached upon the revenue (government) lands," he added.

 

The state government's soft pedalling on the issue comes as an unexpected stand considering the magnitude of the ore illegally extracted from these encroachments.

 

Amid all this, the Parrikar government had suspended seven officials from state mines and geology department within hours of the Union Mines Ministry tabling the Shah Commission report in Parliament on 7th September.

 

Also, all the 90 odd mining leases were suspended, asking the owners to submit the relevant documents before mines and geology department.

 

The mining outside the lease area, which is a blatant violation of the law, was done in 2,796.24 hectares area, of which the actual extraction happened in 578 hectares.

 

Shah Commission records indicate that still 2,222 ha of land is left untouched, but encroached by the mine owners.

 

Over the years, total 1,273 million metric tonnes of ore was extracted from these illegal encroachments worth Rs35,000 crore.

 

Shah commission had recommended that the state government should take immediate action to recover market cost of the iron ore illegally extracted after having proven estimation or others from outside the leased areas with exemplary penalty, along with criminal cases is filed against the lessees and department officials.

 

"The cost incurred due to estimation should be recovered from the extractors," it has added.

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COMMENTS

Jayant Shetty

4 years ago

It is now your call Mr. Parrikar! The Buck stops with you @ Goa!!

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