Even as the Indian Institute of Architects elections for the 2023-2025 term are over, controversies around the voting system continue to persist. K Ravi Kumar Reddy, with four other members of IIA [the Petitioners], filed a petition against the Telangana Chapter of Indian Institute of Architects, and eighteen other members of IIA [the Responders, which included the Indian Institute of Architects, represented by the Secratary] with the City Civil Court in Secunderabad.
The complaint submitted by Architect Ravi Kumar Reddy and others, pointed towards the initial technical glitch faced in the voting system while accusing the Responders of deliberately manipulating the elections in the guise of a glitch in the system and not conducting the elections in fair and transparent manner as required under the bye-laws. The document detailed the previously faulty system, which had re-ignited apprehension regarding the process amongst the members of IIA, who pointed out several loopholes in the process. The Petitioners’ submission also cited their suspicions of the alleged rigging of the database by the administrator at the head office of IIA, as they had access to the IIA election portal.
Responding to the petition, the court has directed the involved parties to maintain status quo with regard to the things which exist as on July 15, 2023, and not conduct the General Body Meeting to install the new body. Further, Police Department, of Government of Telangana has also served a notice to the newly elected Chairman, under Section 91 & 160 Cr.P.C, requesting the details with regards to the Chapter’s election, as sought by the petitioners.
It is important to mention that, several IIA members had demanded appointment of NSDL to ensure fair and transparent elections, but, the IIA refused to this demand and went ahead with the election module created by a private agency. Further, IIA through clarifications, had also shared that the IIA Election Module will be locked under a secure password and the same will be handed over to the Hon. Secretary in the sealed envelopes. The question which remains unanswered is, how was the developer still able to access the module after the glitch was reported? And why did the IIA continue with the module even after the glitched were found in the same?
Anuj Srivastava, architect from NOIDA, shared,
The voting module was offline for over 10 hours as a result of this ‘glitch’ and was resumed with a time extension of an equivalent amount. All votes cast before this were nullified and the voters were asked to vote again. Even during the course of the conduct of the election, the website was non-responsive repeatedly. This has deeply compromised the election process. A number of appeals to stop the election despite these proven vulnerabilities fell on deaf ears. The integrity of the database and back-end is also questionable, given so many flaws.
It is unfortunate that the Institution’s reputation has been further marred by the faulty election process and arrogance of the officials. IIA, which already suffers from a low number of membership might find it difficult to win the trust of the young architects.