VVPAT slips: SC grants week’s time to Opposition for filing reply

Prime News, National, The Supreme Court today granted time to 21 political parties till April 8 to respond to the stand of Election Commission of India that verification of 50 per cent of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) in all constituencies will delay counting.

The Election Commission has filed counter-affidavit in the matter pointing out logistical difficulties in carrying out 50% verification of VVPAT. This will delay the announcement of results by at least 6 days, said the ECI.

This has come in response to a PIL filed by leaders of 21 Opposition political parties, demanding counting and cross verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) in at least 50 per cent (randomly chosen) of all polling stations within each Assembly Segment/ Constituency.

The petition also challenges the decision of ECI to verify VVPAT of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners say that this will account only for 0.44% of the votes polled. This guideline defeats the entire purpose of VVPAT and makes the same “ornamental” without actual substance, they state.

Last week, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had required the Commission to reply whether it is possible to increase the VVPAT sample survey in every assembly segment. The ECI has explained that the VVPAT slip is displayed to the voter through a transparent window in the Electronic Voting Machine for about 7 seconds after the casting of vote. Therefore, the voter can verify his vote then and there itself. The necessity of counting the printed paper slips would only arise if there is any discrepancy between the results as shown by the EVM and as reflected on the printed paper slip, submitted the ECI.

The poll panel has also submitted that no foul play was detected while using VVPAT during 2017 Assembly elections. VVPAT is a paper slip generated by the Electronic Voting Machine every time a voter casts his vote, recording the party to whom the vote was made. This is kept in a sealed cover to be opened only in case of a future dispute. The ECI had informed the Court in 2017 that VVPAT will be used 100% in future elections. However, the decision taken by the ECI in July 2018 was to verify VVPAT of a randomly selected polling station from a constituency.

The petitioners are N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Sharad Pawar (NCP), K C Venugopal (INC), Derek O Brien (TMC), Sharad Yadav (LTJD), Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), M K Stalin (DMK), T K Ranga Rajan (CPI(M)), S Sudhakar Reddu (CPI), Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Farookh Abdullah (NC) K Danish Ali (RJD),Ajith Singh (RLD), M Badrudding Ajmal (AIUDF), Jithin Ram Manji (Hindusthani Awam Morcha), Ashok Kumar Singh (JVM), Khorrum Anis Omar (IUML) Prof.Kodanadram (Telengana Jana Samithi), and K G Kenye (Naga Peoples Front). (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)

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