Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said electronic voting machines were “completely non-tamperable”. Quoting the Election Commission, Prasad told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there was “no technical collaboration with any foreign establishment” to manufacture EVMs.

He said the devices were manufactured by two public sector companies – Bharat Electronic Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited – under the technical guidance of the Election Commission’s Technical Expert Committee.

“The Commission has informed that the EVMs are completely non-tamperable,” said Prasad. “These EVMs are technically sound and the Commission has put in place strict administrative safeguards for their free, fair and transparent use.”

Opposition parties have repeatedly expressed doubts about the credibility of electronic voting machines in the last two years. Two days before the counting of votes in May, representatives of 22 Opposition parties met the Election Commission to reiterate their demand that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail slips of randomly selected polling stations be verified before counting of votes. The Election Commission, however, refused to change the process of the counting.

Prasad said EVMs manufactured in 1989-’90 were declared vintage in 2007. The next model of EVMs (M-1), manufactured from 2000 to 2005, were also rejected after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as those were not compatible with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines. However, these machines have been given to state election commissions for use in local body elections. These devices have a shelf life of 15 years.

Between 2016 and 2019, the Election Commission bought 13.95 lakh ballot units and 10.55 lakh control units for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. One control unit and at least one ballot unit makes for one EVM. The cost was estimated as Rs 2,056.20 crore, excluding taxes and transportation.