‘Everything can’t be suspected,’ says Supreme Court; reserves verdict on 100% cross-verification of EVM votes with VVPAT : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

‘Everything can’t be suspected,’ says Supreme Court; reserves verdict on 100% cross-verification of EVM votes with VVPAT

'This is an electoral process and there needs to be sanctity to it...,' says the Bench

‘Everything can’t be suspected,’ says Supreme Court; reserves verdict on 100% cross-verification of EVM votes with VVPAT

On April 16, the top court had deprecated criticism of EVMs and calls for reverting to ballot papers. Representative image/PTI file



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, April 18

“Everything can’t be suspected,” the Supreme Court on Thursday told petitioners seeking a 100% cross-verification of votes cast through EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) as it reserved its verdict on the contentious issue.

“Now you're going too far. Everything can't be suspected. You can't be critical of everything...please also appreciate if they have done something good. We heard you because we are also concerned,” a Bench of Justice Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta told advocate Prashant Bhushan who represented petitioner Association for Democratic Rights (ADR).

VVPAT is an independent vote verification system which enables an elector to see whether his vote has been cast correctly. It generates a paper slip which can be viewed by the voter. It is kept in a sealed cover and can be opened in case of a dispute.

The petitioners -- ADR and others -- have demanded a 100 percent count of VVPAT slips as opposed to the current practice of verification of only five randomly-selected EVMs per assembly segment through VVPAT paper slips. They have sought measures to ensure that votes are “recorded as cast” and “counted as recorded”.

They have also sought reversal of the EC's 2017 decision to replace the transparent glass on VVPAT machines with an opaque glass through which a voter can see the slip only when the light is on for seven seconds.

On Thursday, Bhushan said as the first phase of polling in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections was just a day away, the easiest thing for the poll panel to do was to let the light in the VVPAT screen remain lit throughout the voting time -- as opposed to seven seconds allowed in the present system -- so that the voter could see the slip cutting and falling.

Citing some media reports, Bhushan alleged that an EVM showed an extra vote during a mock poll in Kerala’s Kasaragod. However, the EC termed the said reports as “false”. 

“These news reports are false. We have verified the allegation from the district collector and it appears that they are false. We will submit a detailed report to the court,” senior Deputy Election Commissioner Nitesh Kumar Vyas told the Bench.

On behalf of the Election Commission, senior counsel Manindar Singh defended the process followed by it for conducting elections through EVMs.

The EC asserted that it has matched EVM votes with more than four crore VVPAT slips and no mismatch has been found so far.

However, senior counsel Sankaranarayanan objected to the EC’s claim, saying “Their own document shows that there is a mismatch ... There is at least one instance of mismatch. Let's not say there is no mismatch.”

In his short intervention, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “This happens periodically on the eve of elections. It has an impact on voter turnout, harms democracy. They are making the choice of voters into a joke. I have told everyone on my side that ... be ready for some planted article/news article for tomorrow.”

The Bench – which posed several questions to the Election Commission regarding the whole electoral process involving the EVM and VVPAT, said, “This is an electoral process and there needs to be sanctity to it and let there be no doubt about it.”

A senior official of the Election Commission explained the entire process to the Bench. He said the Ballot Unit, Control Unit and VVPAT together constituted the EVM and all three units were stored after the election in Strong Rooms which were sealed in the presence of candidates/their agents.

Noting that VVPAT was only a printer, he sought to emphasize that no tampering was possible in EVMs at any stage as no software was involved in the loading of symbols in VVPAT. At every stage representatives of political parties were present, he added.

He said about 17 lakh VVPAT machines were there and the manufacturer didn’t know which machine was going to which constituency and which button had been allocated to which party.

Virtually rejecting demands to revert to the system of physical counting of votes or to go for a 100 percent count of VVPAT slips, the top court had on Tuesday said it was not practicable in India where the number of voters was very high and physical counting of votes had its own problems.

“We are in our 60s. We have seen what used to happen earlier when there were ballot papers. You may have, but we have not forgotten,” the Bench had told Bhushan after he demanded that the EC should revert to the system of physical counting of votes.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

#Supreme Court


Top News

In a historic move, Norway, Ireland and Spain recognise Palestinian as a state

In a historic move, Norway, Ireland and Spain recognise Palestine as a state

Israel orders recall of ambassadors to Ireland and Norway

Pune accident Porsche whose price starts at Rs 96 lakh was not registered due to non-payment of Rs 1,758

Pune accident: Porsche whose price starts at Rs 96 lakh was not registered due to non-payment of Rs 1,758

Maharashtra Transport Commissioner said the Porsche was impo...

Teen Porsche driver spent Rs 48K in 90 minutes at Pune pub; know the grandfather’s role in the accident case

Teen Porsche driver spent Rs 48K in 90 minutes at Pune pub; know the grandfather’s role in accident case

The teen accused allegedly visited two pubs – Cosie restaura...


Cities

View All