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Assembly Elections| 'Let Counting Go On As Per Established Practice': Supreme Court Refuses To Interfere In VVPAT Plea

Srishti Ojha
8 March 2022 11:37 AM GMT
Assembly Elections| Let Counting Go On As Per Established Practice: Supreme Court Refuses To Interfere In VVPAT Plea
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Refusing to give urgent listing tomorrow for a plea which sought Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail(VVPAT) verification in more polling booths and VVPAT verification before the counting of the votes, the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon said "let counting go on as per established practice, procedures and law".After the Election Commission of India(ECI) said that it is following the judgment...

Refusing to give urgent listing tomorrow for a plea which sought Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail(VVPAT) verification in more polling booths and VVPAT verification before the counting of the votes, the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon said "let counting go on as per established practice, procedures and law".

After the Election Commission of India(ECI) said that it is following the judgment in relation to Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail(VVPAT) verification, the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon refused to urgently list tomorrow the PIL filed by a social activist Rakesh Kumar.

"We are not interfering", a bench led by the Chief Justice of India said.

It may be noted that on Tuesday morning, the Chief Justice of India had agreed to list the petition tomorrow, after an urgent mentioning by Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora. However, after today's board was over, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh made a mention on behalf of the ECI to submit that the petition was not maintainable as the ECI officials have already been trained to follow the 2019 judgment of the Supreme Court with respect to VVPAT verification.

The Counsel appearing for the petitioner however submitted that verification of slips should be done in first or second round of counting in the beginning and not in the last as the election agents might not be staying till the end.

The CJI asked what the Court can do at the last minute when the counting in five state assembly elections is scheduled to take place day after tomorrow.

"What can we do last minute?", the CJI asked.

Mr. Maninder Singh submitted that the people have been trained as per the court's judgment, and the petition itself isn't maintainable.

"We are not interfering, let counting go on as per established practice, procedures and law .They(ECI) are following Judgment, they have made a statement", the CJI said.

The CJI said that the petition will be considered in the regular course only.

The petition also seeks a direction to increase the number of booths per constituency where the VVPAT verification is done. Relief for increasing randomly selected polling stations for the purpose of mandatory verification of VVPAT paper slips from 5 to 25 and/or proportionately in each Assembly Constituency/Segment has been sought in the PIL. At present, it is done in five randomly selected booths per constituency, as per the Supreme Court direction in the 2019 case N Chandrababu Naidu & Ors v Union of India and Another (2019) 15 SCC 377.

Kumar in his petition has contended that when the candidates and/or their agents become aware of the outcome of the election during the last round of counting of votes, they do not wait for the counting the VVPAT paper slips of the 5 randomly selected polling stations

Case Title: Rakesh Kumar vs Union of India & Ors



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