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Posted at: Apr 25, 2019, 7:09 AM; last updated: Apr 25, 2019, 8:34 AM (IST)

Oppn seeks review of SC order on matching VVPAT slips with EVMs

Oppn seeks review of SC order on matching VVPAT slips with EVMs
An EVM and a VVPAT machine.

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 24

Twenty-one opposition leaders on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its April 8 order which directed the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment in the ongoing general elections.

Led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu – the opposition leaders who had earlier sought 50 per cent random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs, urged the top court to review its order on the ground that that the “increase from 01 (one) to 05 (five) is not a ‘reasonable number’ and does not lead to the satisfaction desired by this court”.

“The petitioners submit that the aforesaid increase to a mere 2 per cent is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order.

“Therefore, even though the petitioners have succeeded on the merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved of.” Referring to earlier observations of the apex court, it said the 2 per cent increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs would not achieve the purpose of raising “public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process”.

Three days before the first phase of the general elections, the Supreme Court on April 8 asked the Election Commission to increase the number of VVPAT slip verification from one EVM to five EVMs per Assembly segment to enhance “credibility” and “integrity” to the electoral process.

The order came from a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on a petition filed by 21 opposition leaders, who had demanded that it should be increased to 50% of VVPAT slips.

The EVMs for VVPAT slip verification have to be randomly selected, said the Bench which also included Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna.

After considering the objections raised by the Election Commission and arguments of senior counsel Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the petitioners, the Bench said it was of the view that the paper trail verification of EVMs should be increased to five for greater satisfaction of political parties and the electorate.

“We are of the view that if the number of EVMs in respect to VVPAT is subjected to physical scrutiny be increased from one to five per assembly segment...there will be greater satisfaction not only to the political parties but also to the voters,” the Bench said.

Rejecting the EC’s contention, the Bench said it would neither require additional manpower and infrastructure nor delay the declaration of results.

The top court chose not strike down the EC guidelines which limited VVPAT verification to one EVM per Assembly constituency. However, it clarified that efficacy of the existing system or credibility of EVMs was not under doubt.

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