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HC seeks replies on EVM tampering plea

Imphal, July 22: Manipur High Court has sought replies from Election Commission, state chief electoral officer P.C. Lawmkunga and two other respondents within four weeks on a petition filed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) on alleged EVM tampering.

Soso Lorho, the NPF candidate from Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency, had filed a plea for examination of nearly 100 EVMs used in Lok Sabha election by an expert committee to verify whether they had been tampered with.

Outer Manipur went to polls on April 9, which re-elected sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite to Lok Sabha.

The NPF candidate had alleged in his petition that the ruling Congress government had manipulated nearly 100 EVMs in favour of the party candidate.

Baite and the Manipur PCC are the other two respondents in the petition.

In his petition, Lorho asked for sealing of nearly 100 voting machines used in Thoubal, Imphal East and Churachandpur districts, which were allegedly manipulated and constitution of an expert committee for forensic examination of the machines.

The petition also asked to declare Baite’s win in the election as null and void, debarring him from contesting elections for six years and a directive to the Election Commission and the chief electoral officer to refund Lorho’s election expenditure of Rs 25,18,313.

Justice N. Kotishore in his notice issued yesterday directed the respondents to return their replies within four weeks.

“Polling in Outer Manipur constituency was not free and fair. The voting machines were manipulated by the ruling Congress,” Athuan Abonmai, general secretary of the Manipur NPF unit, said.

He said during counting on May 16, the close button of many EVMs was allegedly not pressed by the respective presiding officers to lock them. When counting agents of Lorho protested against the matter, they were threatened by election officials, he alleged.