Amid a raging debate over the trustworthiness of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), former chief election commissioner T S Krishnamurthy today said they were credible, robust and reliable as "machines do not go wrong, it's men who do".
He said that history has suggested that those who complain against the EVMs ever since they were introduced were always from the defeated parties.
"See the history of who has complained. It's always been the defeated party," Krishnamurthy told PTI in an interview.
He said, "(former late Tamil Nadu chief minister) Jayalalithaa and Amarinder Singh went to the Supreme Court (in the past). (After) they won in the next elections, they kept quiet."
"Amarinder Singh has come to power (in Punjab) this time also with the use of the EVMs," he said.
Asked if he has "unwavering faith" in the EVMs and their "infallibility", Krishnamurthy said: "Absolutely, unless and until somebody is going to prove to me that it (manipulation) can be done. To the best of knowledge and with my experience, the EVMs are credible, reliable and robust."
On reports of malfunctioning of some of the EVMs in elections, Krishnamurthy said, "Machines don't go wrong, it's men who go wrong."
He said the EVMs malfunction because those who handle them do not know how to operate or they may have made some application errors or may not have been well-trained. Examininations later revealed there was nothing wrong with those machines.
In cases of malfunctioning, the Election Commission immediately replaces the EVMs to "improve credibility and people's perception" and not because they have become faulty.
Terming the EVMs as "nation's pride", Krishnamurthy said because of them, "we are able to save so much of paper and so much of time."
In the earlier paper ballot system, there have been a number of instances in some parts of the country where ballot papers were thrust into the machines and sometimes ballot boxes were taken away.
"On the whole, I don't see any reason to question the credibility of machines. It's absolutely robust and credible. I have no doubt about it," he said.
Krishnamurthy said those who criticise the EVMs were doing so either out of ignorance or due to the fact that they want to find an excuse for their defeat.
Stating that the EVMs have built-in safeguards, he wondered as to how chips can be replaced when they are kept in police stations and store-rooms guarded by the CRPF personnel and at polling stations.
"It's more of an apprehension than a reality."
"Candidates' names (in EVMs) are listed alphabetically, and not in order of people of particular political party. In every constituency the order of any party will be different from other. How can you manipulate machines? It's more in mind than actual practice," he said.
"Somebody said chip can be changed and (EVMs) can be remotedly operated), both are impossible," Krishnamurthy said.
According to him, those who make the charge that the EVMs can be manipulated and tampered with, they should demonstrate so before an independent body of IIT professors, experts and eminent technical personnel.
"If they want, they can (also) certainly challenge it in any court; they are (now) doing it (only) in public- speaking," Krishnamurthy said.
He cautioned that going back to paper ballots would be the "most retrograde step."
"So many safeguards built in (EVMs), I feel sorry that political parties are not responsible in their criticism," he said.