Just three days after ordering the seizure of EVMs in Vikasnagar constituency of Dehradun district, the Uttarakhand high court on Monday ordered sealing of EVMs in six more constituencies of the state — Mussoorie, Rajpur Road (Dehradun), BHEL Ranipur, Raipur, Pratapnagar and Haridwar rural.
The court said the sealing and seizure should be completed within 48 hours in the presence of a judicial magistrate. This is perhaps the first instance of an HC ordering the seizure of EVMs used in as many as seven seats of a state. The order was delivered by Justice S K Gupta in response to a petition filed by the runner-up candidates in these seats. The Uttarakhand high court ordered the sealing of EVMs in the six constituencies after candidates who lost in this year’s assembly polls — all Congress members — claimed in a petition to the court that machines given by the Election Commission were replaced by the winning candidates with allegedly manipulated EVMs.
While ordering the seizure, the court issued notice to the Centre, the state election commission, and the six winners — Khajan Das (Rajpur Road), Adesh Kumar Chauhan (BHEL Ranipur), Umesh Sharma Kau (Raipur), Ganesh Joshi (Mussoorie), Vijay Singh Panwar (Pratapnagar) and Yatiswaranand (Haridwar rural), all BJP MLAs — seeking their replies within six weeks.
Just three days earlier, the court had ordered the EVM machines used in the Vikasnagar seat to be sealed in the presence of a judicial magistrate after hearing a petition filed by Navprabhat, former cabinet minister and Congress member, who alleged that the machines had been tampered with. Navprabhat had lost the seat to BJP’s Munna Singh Chauhan by over 6,000 votes. Reacting to the HC order, Navprabhat said, “It is a very serious matter, which needs to be taken up on the national level.”