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Judiciary

Supreme Court Rejects EVM Source Code Audit Plea, Citing Hacking Concerns

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      23 September, 2023 01:39 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Rejects EVM Source Code Audit Plea Citing Hacking Concerns

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a PIL seeking an audit of the source code used in Electronic Voting Machines during the elections, saying putting such information in public domain will make it susceptible to hacking.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, “On such a policy issue, we are not inclined to issue directions which have been sought by the petitioner. There is no material before this court to indicate that the Election Commission is not taking suitable steps to fulfil its mandated, we are not inclined to entertain the petition."

Petitioner Sunil Ahya submitted that this petition has been filed for single issue regarding the audit of the source code of EVMs.

The bench asked him as to what is the material to doubt it.

Ahya said the EC has not followed any particular standard and they have not disclosed any standard, and any audit has to be as per recognised standard and source code is the brain of the EVM.

The petitioner said he had made three representations to the Election Commission but they preferred to keep silent on it.

He contended that the source is the brain of EVM and the matter is regarding the survival of democracy.

The bench said it knew what a source code was as when an application was put on the apex court website, it has to go through a security audit.

Ahya said which standard they are following is not in the public domain.

"Be rest assured these standard guidelines are being followed, the moment it is put in public domain then there is a danger that it itself will be subject to misuse, when we conduct a security audit….say for instance e-filing software or we have now allowed electronic passes for entering into the Supreme Court,” the bench said.

“If we start putting out what is the source code in the public domain, you know who will be able to hack that,” the bench told the petitioner.

Ahya contended that his petition was not about making it an open source. He again claimed that the brain of the EVM system is not being audited and people are voting on it.

The PIL preferred by Ahya sought an independent audit of the source code of the EVMs, applying a particular standard IEEE 1028, and the source must be independently audited and the audit report be placed in public domain.

The bench noted the plea was moved before the 2019 general election and then in April 2019, the apex court then had said that it cannot go into the issues raised in the PIL against the backdrop of the general election and liberty was given to the petitioner to initiate fresh action.

Ahya filed another PIL before the court in 2020, then he was allowed to make representation before the Election Commission.

He said since the Election Commission did not respond to his representations, making him move the court again.



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