leader Satish Chandra Misra on Wednesday said the "basic structure of the Constitution has been tinkered with" by introducing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Participating in a discussion on electoral reforms in the upper house, Misra referred to the 2001 Supreme Court judgment in the Union of India versus Association for Democratic Reforms case.

The apex court observed: "Under our Constitution, Article 19(1)(a) provides for freedom of speech and expression. Voters' speech or expression in case of election would include casting of votes, that is to say, voter speaks out or expresses by casting vote."

He also referred to a 1978 Supreme Court judgment in Mohinder Singh Gill versus Chief Election Commissioner where the court observed that "with the end of poll, the whole election is not over. Ballots have to assembled."

Mishra said: "The amendment to the Act (Representation of People Act, 1951) to bring in EVMs is ultra vires.

"We have committed this mistake, Parliament has committed this mistake. We have tinkered with the basic structure of Constitution and Article 19(1)A of Constitution by introducing voting machines."

Misra said today anything electronic can be hacked and the EVMs were no exception.

"If even one per cent of tinkering (with votes polled) is possible, it is not a free and fair election."

Advocating the mandatory use of voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) devices with EVMs, the leader expressed surprise that of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, VVAPTs were used only in 20 seats in the latest elections.

"Even this system of voters not being able to collect VVPAT slips is not perfect. Most people in our country are not literate or well educated. They cannot quickly read what is on the VVPAT slip. Hence, they should be allowed to collect it and put it in a box themselves after they are satisfied," he said.

Misra said that while advanced countries like Japan and Germany are not relying on EVMs for elections, India was insisting on using them.

On the anti-defection law, Misra said any elected member who defects to another party must be made to resign from his seat and recontest elections on his new party's symbol.

The Bahujan Samaj Party has blamed EVMs for its rout in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election.

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