The Supreme Court today issued notice on a petition filed by leaders from 21 political parties seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India(ECI) to randomly verify at least 50 per cent votes using Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) in the polls to 17th Lok Sabha.
The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has asked the ECI to give its response on March 25.
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.
The petition refers to the decision in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v ECI (2013) 10 SCC 500 which held that VVPAT is an "indispensable requirement of free and fair elections". To give meaningful effect to this judgment, at least 50% of VVPAT should be verified.
"A 50% randomised verification in each assembly constituency/assembly segment is a reasonable sample size to both (a) allay the fears of the general public with regard to EVM tampering and; (b) be a statistically significant sample size to ensure that EVMs are working properly," the plea said.
VVPAT is a paper slip generated by the Electronic Voting Machine everytime 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 :