The Election Commission and Congress leaders traded accusations in the Supreme Court over the veracity of documents produced by the party to claim that electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh were full of errors, prompting the top court to ask both sides to file affidavits to back their stands.
The EC, through Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Vikas Singh, accused the Congress of producing in court portions of electoral lists in MP which were not true.
“They are trying to prejudice the court with wrong documents and get relief,” Singh charged. Singh also refused to hand over the entire electoral rolls in MP to the party leaders, saying that it cannot “hand over data which can be mined”.
Instead, he insisted, that the EC was doing all it can, including using software analysis, to check facts and figures.
He contested some names which the Congress leaders had charged were duplicates to claim that they had produced wrong facts with intent to get relief from the court.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal vehemently contested this version. He said that the data had been collected from public sources and that they were only trying to establish its authenticity. He denied the allegation that the party was trying to mislead the court.
The EC had in Rajasthan conceded the Congress demand to give them word files of the electoral rolls for verification. Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath has since accused the EC of going back on its stand and denying the party the list for Madhya Pradesh.
The EC has, so far, resisted handing over the requisite data ahead of the impending polls.
The standoff forced the bench led by Justice AK Sikri to ask both sides to file affidavits in support of their case. He was sitting alongside Justice Ashok Bhushan. Affidavits are sworn statements made to the court.
Sibal also demanded to know why the EC hadn’t taken any action so far against websites which were unauthorisedly reproducing the electoral rolls.
Kamal Nath had on August 10 filed a petition seeking a direction to the EC to ensure proper verification of electoral rolls to weed out duplicate voters in the interest of free and fair polls to the state Assembly.
His petition had also demanded compulsory cross-verification of EVM vote counts with the Voter Veri fiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the forthcoming polls.