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Posted at: Aug 10, 2018, 9:18 PM; last updated: Aug 10, 2018, 9:18 PM (IST)

Assembly polls: MP Cong chief Kamal Nath moves SC for random check of VVPAT machines

Assembly polls: MP Cong chief Kamal Nath moves SC for random check of VVPAT machines
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra agreed to hear his petition next week.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10

Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking random verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the ensuing Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh where his party is out of power for the last 15 years.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress chief sought a direction to the Election Commission to randomly verify VVPAT slips with EVM votes at 10 per cent of polling booths in every constituency “to ensure free and fair elections.

Kamal Nath urged the top court to direct the EC to prohibit deletion of voters from the voter list without intimation to all political parties. He pointed out that recently the EC had dropped more than 24 lakh voters from the voter list published in January 2018 for Madhya Pradesh and “it would not be out of place to mention that the Respondents (ECI) have admitted 2,37,234 photo entries found to be suspicious/ unclear/blank photos”.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra agreed to hear his petition next week after his counsel Varun Chopra demanded that it should be listed for urgent hearing.

The petitioner said the display time for the VVPAT slip for the voters should be 15 seconds instead of the current seven seconds because paper trail coming out of VVPAT was only visible for seven seconds. Therefore, majority of voters, who were not well-versed with technology, will not be able to look to the paper trail and confirm if the VVPAT was showing the correct slip.

“In the absence of any empirical study on each state with regard to the capability of voter to identify the votes cast, the time fixed by the ECI for display as 7 seconds is arbitrary and must be increased to a reasonable time, i.e., 15 seconds,” the petitioner submitted.

He said that the poll panel has not explained as to whether unique identification serial number will be given to the collection box and the EVM. Unless such unique identification serial number was given to identify the ballot box and the voting machine, chances of manipulation were very high, adding that, in order to prevent any kind of manipulation Unique Identification Serial Number has to be made mandatory for all EVMs with VVPATs, he submitted in the petition.

Alleging lapses in transferring of machines before and after the polls, he pointed out a May 29 incident after bye-polls at Palghar Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra when two election officers were caught transporting EVMs in a private car.

“No clear instructions regarding and secured transportation of EVMs before and after polling has been prescribed till date. Without a protocol and standard procedure for the same, such incidents can vitiate the entire process of elections,” he submitted.


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