Poll Body's Press Note On Mobile Used "Unauthorisedly" At Mumbai Counting Centre

The Election Commission said the returning officer has issued notice to Mid-Day newspaper for "spreading disinformation about the EVM and creating doubts in the Indian electoral system"

Election Commission said returning officer has filed a police case over the matter (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Election Commission today admitted a mobile phone of an "authorised person" was used by the aide of a candidate "unauthorisedly" while votes were being counted in Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat.

The Shiv Sena's Ravindra Waikar had won from this constituency.

In a statement to the media, the Election Commission said the returning officer has already filed a police case over the matter.

It was alleged that the mobile phone had a capability to receive a one-time password (OTP) for unlocking an electronic voting machine (EVM).

The EC said the returning officer has issued notice to Mid-Day newspaper for "spreading disinformation about the EVM and creating doubts in the Indian electoral system."

"There is no OTP on mobile phone for unlocking EVM as it is non-programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create a false narrative," the EC said in the press note.

"EVMs are standalone devices without any wires or wireless connectivity with units outside the EVM system... Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents," the EC said.

The EC said the counting of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is done in a physical form (paper ballot), and not in an electronic form "as is being spread through false narratives."

Soon after the EC's press note, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi in a post on X said the returning officer's action raises more questions. "Madam Returning Officer is implicating the election office further rather than bring transparency. Many more questions arise from Vandana Suryawanshi jis conference rather than get answers regarding the process for Mumbai North West election result," Ms Chaturvedi said in the post.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan in a video statement asked several questions on the latest EVM controversy. "After the June 4 incident, the FIR (first information report) was filed only on June 14. Many questions remain unanswered. First, who allowed a mobile phone to be brought to the counting centre, and what was it being used for? Second, from where did this OTP matter come from? What is it about..." Mr Chavan said.

The EC's press note comes on a day when the topic of EVM is being discussed on social media around the world, sparked by Tesla chief Elon Musk's post on his microblogging platform X about the possibility of switching to paper ballots due to concerns over EVM hacking.

In India, former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar defended the use of EVM as a secure system, and criticised Mr Musk for doubting a self-contained, well-made technology.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and alliance partner Akhilesh Yadav also joined the debate, with both calling for scrapping EVMs in favour of paper ballot.