Election Commission of India  must question the presence political nominees on BEL’s and ECIL’s Boards 

Failure of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to question appointment of political nominees on the Board of Bharat Electoronics Ltd (BEL) involved in the supply of EVMs



Shri Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner


Shri A C Pandey

Election Commissioner


Shri A Goel

Election Commissioner

Dear S/Shri Rajiv Kumar/ Pandey and Goel,

Please refer to my letter dated 7-1-2023 (https://countercurrents.org/2023/01/use-of-remote-evms-for-migrants-eci-should-set-its-house-in-order/on several issues concerning the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for counting votes in elections and other related matters, including the prima facie conflict of interest that arises from the presence of BJP’s nominees on the Board of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) involved in the supply of EVMs.

From a look at the latest position as reflected on the BEL website (,https://www.bel-india.in/Leadership.aspx?MId=3&CId=1&LId=1&link=0), there are at least four nominees of BJP on BEL’s Board. Even in the case of the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), which is also involved in the supply of EVMs, one should not be surprised if there is at least one political nominee on its Board.

While I hold the concerned individual nominee Directors in high respect and while I am also aware that the senior managers and the employees of both BEL and EIL strive to maintain the highest standards of professionalism, the fact that some Directors on their Boards are political nominees raises questions about a possible conflict of interest, as both these companies are closely involved in the design and supply of EVMs for elections.

Considering that there are major concerns about the vulnerability of EVMs to hacking by external agencies  and considering that the BEL is brazenly reluctant to come clean on the data pertaining to the EVMs and the ballot paper trails (VVPATs) (https://thewire.in/rights/bel-refuses-to-disclose-evm-vvpat-data-even-after-demanding-fees-what-does-it-mean), the presence of such political nominees on BEL’s and ECIL’s Boards can tilt the level-playing ground, at least in terms of public perception, between the ruling political party at the Centre and the other political parties in opposition

Clearly, neither the Commission has cared to question the above-cited Board appointments nor the concerned political party has displayed any sensitivity whatsoever towards the far-reaching implications of such appointments for the integrity of the electoral process.

One gets the inevitable feeling that the political executive at the Centre brazenly takes the Commission for granted!

In my view, this raises serious apprehensions in the mind of the public about the role of the Commission as an independent authority created under Article 324 of the Constitution, especially in view of the fact that it is the political executive that appoints the members of the Commission.

In this connection, may I remind you of the following observations made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 3-3-2023 in WP(C) No.104/2015?

In the facts and circumstances, keeping in view the importance of maintaining the neutrality and independence of the office of the Election Commission to hold free and fair election which is a  sine qua non for upholding the democracy as enshrined in our Constitution, it becomes imperative to shield the appointment of Election Commissioners….to be insulated from the executive interference”

In view of the above observations of the apex court, I appeal to you once again to take note of the concerns expressed by me in this letter and the earlier letter and act in time, decisively, to demonstrate the Commission’s independence as a Constitutional authority so as to reinforce the trust reposed in it by the people of this country.

Referring to the other issues raised by me in my above-cited letter dated 7-1-2023, apart from the vulnerability of the EVMs to external interference, in the absence of totalizers ((https://eci.gov.in/faqs/evm/general-qa/electronic-voting-machine-r2/), the manner in which the EVMs are being used today violates the most essential requirement of a free and fair election, namely, the secrecy of voting, as required in Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. In these days when political parties brazenly polarise society to win elections at any cost, it is unacceptable that the Commission should deliberately discard the procedure of “mixing of ballot papers” before counting in each constituency, in the name of speeding up the counting process.

Considering the doubts expressed by many about the infallibility of EVM technology, the Commission should respect those concerns and direct 100% verification of the EVM results with reference to VVPATs.

I look forward to the Commission responding to these concerns urgently and taking decisions that justify the public trust reposed in the Commission.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to the Government of India

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