A Metropolitan court today granted bail to activist Hari Prasad, who claimed to have blown the whistle on how an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) can be tampered with.
The bail was granted by magistrate VB Srikhande on a bond of Rs25,000 and on condition that the accused would attend concerned police station once in a week for a month.
The magistrate observed that, “no offence was disclosed with Hari Prasad’s arrest and even if it was assumed that EVM was stolen it appears that there was no dishonest intention on his part….he was trying to show how EVM machines can be tampered with.”
The court also asked Election Commission to approve or disapprove the claim made by the accused that EVM machines could be tampered with. If he is making false claims then action could be taken against him, the magistrate said.
Hari Prasad (42), technical coordinator of VeTA (Citizens for Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Elections), was arrested from Hyderabad on Saturday for allegedly stealing an EVM from Mumbai Collector’s office. He later used the EVM for demonstrating on television how the machine can be tampered with.
The police sought further custody of Prasad, saying it needed to find out the identity of two other activists from Maharashtra who allegedly helped him.
Claiming innocence, Prasad said he did not steal the EVM, which was given to him by two persons who took it back within two days.
Appearing on behalf of the accused, his counsel Mahesh Jethmalani said the EVM was handed over to Prasad by some activists from Maharashtra including the husband of a politician Shobha Bachav, who had approached his client to know if he could prove that the machine was not tamper-proof.
“Prasad agreed to prove that the EVM can be tampered with. He did not steal the machine,” Jethmalani argued.
Hari Prasad has been booked under IPC sections relating to theft and trespass.
The EVM was stolen from godown number 21 at Old Customs House in south Mumbai following which a complaint was registered with the police by a Collectorate official.
On April 28, in a show on a private television channel in Hyderabad, Hari Prasad demonstrated how the EVM can be tinkered to manipulate results.
The number embossed on the EVM he used and the one that had gone missing from Mumbai was identical.