Heading for confrontation with the Election Commission (EC), a parliamentary panel has questioned its power to enforce the model code of conduct and efficacy of electronic voting machines (EVM).
In a report submitted in Parliament on Monday, the standing committee on law and justice said that the model code of conduct for political parties during elections was a “voluntary agreement” and its legal status was a “grey area”.
The committee said that the voluntary nature of the code has not remained so after it was incorporated in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, which authorises the commission to suspend the symbol of a political party for violation of the code.
The code comes into force once an election is announced and has created problems for the government in implementing its schemes.
It has been criticised for stalling development works in name of maintaining level playing field during elections.
The committee has recommended that the code should be brought under the Representation of People’s Act or Rules and not under the Election Symbols Order.
The Election Commission, however, differs with the committee's view saying placing the code under the symbols order was the only way to make it effective.
Some members of the standing committee also raised questions over EVMs saying they were not “trustworthy” and tamperable. “Members expressed their reservation with regard to the transparency in votes by EVMs,” the report said, adding that developed countries like United States were not using EVMs in their general elections. The committee has asked EC to submit a detailed note on the status of reliability of the EVMs.