Central Information Commission Criticizes Election Commission for Delayed Reply to RTI Inquiry on EVMs

Central Information Commission scolds Election Commission for tardy response to RTI query on EVMs. CIC demands prompt explanation and compliance.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has reprimanded the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to respond to a Right to Information (RTI) Act request regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) within the stipulated time frame. In a case filed by retired civil servant MG Devasahayam, the CIC ruled that the ECI's actions constituted a serious violation of the RTI Act.

Chief Information Commissioner Heeralal Samariya expressed strong disapproval of the ECI's conduct, stating that the former Public Information Officer (PIO) had neglected to provide any response to the RTI application within the designated time frame. The CIC ordered the concerned PIO to furnish a written explanation for the breach of RTI provisions.

The case originated from an RTI application filed by Devasahayam in November 2022, seeking information regarding a representation submitted to the ECI by a group of eminent citizens. The representation raised concerns about the credibility of EVMs and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines during elections, as well as their compliance with democratic principles.

Despite not receiving a response from the ECI within 30 days, and subsequent silence on the first appeal, Devasahayam approached the CIC in March the following year. The RTI application requested details such as the names and designations of recipients of the representation, copies of correspondence related to the representation, and minutes of any meetings discussing the issues raised.

During the hearing, the ECI claimed that they had not received the RTI application and promised to provide the requested data within a month. However, the CIC was unsatisfied with this response and called for written submissions from the ECI's PIO and other relevant officers within 30 days.

Furthermore, the CIC directed the ECI to furnish the requested information within 30 days and submit a compliance report. The current PIO was tasked with ensuring that the former PIO received the order and providing a comprehensive response to the RTI application.

RTI activist Amrita Johri represented Devasahayam during the proceedings, while Election Commission of India Under-Secretary Rakesh Kumar and Assistant Section Officer Satish Kumar appeared for the ECI.