A video circulating on social media alleges that a few people are destroying Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips by extracting them from the corresponding machines inside a strong room without following the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. This claim is being circulated along with allegations that the process of removing VVPAT slips from the strong room is a manipulative act planned by PM Modi. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: Video depicts VVPAT slips being removed from the strong room, despite the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 requiring VVPAT slips to be preserved for one year following the elections.
Fact: Though the time and location of the video is unknown, the video doesn’t show any wrongdoing. The workers can be seen extracting the VVPAT slips from the machine and preserving them after counting as per the guidelines of Election Commission of India, and not destroying them. Further investigation on the unauthorized person who recorded the video is ongoing. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
Section 94(b) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, states that subject to any direction to the contrary given by the Election Commission or by a competent court or tribunal, election-related papers such as used and unused ballot papers, counterfoils of used ballot papers, marked copies of electoral rolls, and registers of voters shall be retained for one year. However, this rule does not specifically mention VVPAT slips. Section 94(c), which addresses all other election papers not mentioned above (including VVPAT slips), states that they can be retained for a period as directed by the Election Commission unless the Election petition/Court case is Pending.
Nonetheless, the video in the post does not depict the destruction of VVPAT slips or any other election-related papers. Instead, it merely shows the removal of VVPAT slips from the respective machines & preserving them in a black envelope in accordance with the Election Commission’s guidelines on handling VVPAT slips after completion of the counting of votes.
When the same video went viral in December 2022, claiming to show EVM fraud in Bhavnagar during the Gujarat elections, Deputy Election Officer of Bhavnagar, SN Katara, clarified that the video does not depict any wrongdoing; instead, the workers are simply following established procedures. Additionally, the District Magistrate and Collector of Bhavnagar, D.K. Parekh, stated that the video was recorded by an unauthorized individual and they initiated an inquiry into the incident. He also emphasized that there is no foul play in the process shown in the video.
A demo video on how to extract & preserve VVPAT slips from the machine can be seen here.
To sum it up, the viral video shows the extraction and preservation of the VVPAT slips in accordance with the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, but it does not show their destruction.