Money & Banking

Franklin e-vote: Scrutiniser’s report raises more doubts on the process

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on January 26, 2021

Law firm J Sagar says it can’t vouch for the accuracy of information, data

Raising further doubts over the ‘fairness’ of the e-voting process at Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund (FTMF), Mumbai law firm J Sagar Associates (JSA), which was appointed the ‘scrutiniser’, said it cannot vouch for the accuracy of the entire process.

JSA said in its report, seen by BusinessLine, that it relied on the voting data provided by KFin Tech, the company that provided the voting platform, and has not conducted any investigation or examination on its own into the data or the voting process.

“We have not investigated or verified the accuracy of the facts available and have not made any searches or any other independent investigation with any third party... we have not verified any information provided to us from any information which is either available in public domain or based on any other document,” JSA said in its disclosure.

Debt schemes

The e-voting was conducted during the last week of December after the Supreme Court asked FTMF to seek investor consent to wind-up the six debt schemes. While Franklin said that over 90 per cent of the votes was in favour of shutting down the schemes, several questions have been raised by the SEBI-appointed observer. Now, the disclosures by JSA have raised more doubts over the e-voting process.

On the question of possible duplication in the e-voting, the JSA report said, “The process was conducted by KFin online and J Sagar had no access to the details of the voting prior to the unlocking of the results. We will, therefore, be unable to make such a representation in the report.”

‘No technical error’

On the question of whether the e-voting was conducted without any technical glitches, JSA said, “We are not qualified to opine on the technical glitches. We understand from KFin that to the best of ‘their knowledge’ there was no technical error in the e-voting.”

KFin Tech provided the platform for e-voting and its role is already under scanner. On January 24, BusinessLine had reported that a forensic audit by the Central Forensic and Science Laboratory, which functions under the Home Ministry, disclosed that multiple votes were cast from the IP belonging to the servers of KFin Tech.

According to the Companies Act and guidelines of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, a scrutiniser should ensure ‘fairness’ in the e-voting process.

JSA said in its report that its role was limited to the counting of votes after they were downloaded from KFin online portal.

Published on January 26, 2021

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