The city unit of Congress party and its candidate from Nagpur Lok Sabha constituency Nana Patole on Saturday filed a plea in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court seeking an order to authorities to ensure that transparency and accountability are maintained during the elections.
The Nagpur bench of the high court has issued notices to the returning officer, Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra and the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking their reply by Sunday.
A division bench comprising justices Ravi Deshpande and Shreeram Modak directed the respondents, to strictly follow Election Commission of India’s (ECI) guidelines for conducting polls.
Patole is pitted against Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari in the Lok Sabha election.
The petition claimed that between March 25 and 28, when EVMs were being tested ahead of elections, the CCTV cameras outside the two strongrooms were not working.
Had the CCTV cameras been functioning, the petitioner be provided footage of the two strongrooms, the petition has demanded according to Patole’s lawyer Rafique Akbani.
A division bench of justices R K Deshpande and S M Modak noted that prima facie (on the face of it) there was no reason to doubt the election process.
However, “we expect the respondents to take into consideration the grievances of the candidates which shall help in maintaining transparency and security in the storage of EVMs and VVPATs,” the court said.
“The Lok Sabha constituency in question is sensitive and it is from that point of view , we issue notice to respondents, making it returnable tomorrow,” the order stated.
Patole had alleged at a press conference that CCTV cameras at two EVM strongrooms were not functioning.
Their second grievance is that during second level checking of EVMs and VVPATs it’s not possible for just a couple of candidates’ representatives to monitor mock-drills of thousands of equipment at a time. Therefore, at least 20 representatives of each political party should be allowed to remain present during such events.
The petitioners claimed that respondents violated some of the clauses mentioned in ‘ECI’s Handbook of Returning Officer, 2019’, thus vitiating the process of free and fair election. It raises serious doubts and apprehension in the mind of the public as well as them.