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SC Favors Increasing VVPAT Match, Seeks Election Commission's Response

MEHAL JAIN
25 March 2019 8:59 AM GMT
SC Favors Increasing VVPAT Match, Seeks Election Commissions Response
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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission of India to explain on affidavit by Thursday its decision to cross-check the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) of only one randomly selected booth in each constituency. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also required the Commission to reply whether it is possible to increase the VVPAT sample survey in...

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission of India to explain on affidavit by Thursday its decision to cross-check the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) of only one randomly selected booth in each constituency.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also required the Commission to reply whether it is possible to increase the VVPAT sample survey in every assembly segment.

On March 15, the bench had issued notice on a petition filed by leaders from 21 political parties seeking a direction to the ECI to randomly verify at least 50 per cent votes using VVPATs in the polls to 17th Lok Sabha. The parties include the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI (Marxist), CPI, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Loktantrik Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

 It has been contended that the verification of only one will account for merely 0.44% of the votes polled and that the same would defeat the entire purpose of VVPAT, making it "ornamental" without actual substance.

Reference is made to the decision in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v. ECI [(2013) 10 SCC 500] which held that the VVPAT is an "indispensable requirement of free and fair elections".

In pursuance of the previous order of the court, a Deputy Election Commissioner was personally present on Monday to assist the court. When the bench seemed to favour an increase in the number of VVPATs, inquiring from the official if it was feasible, he replied that the ECI had not deemed it necessary.

"Then why didn't you bring in the VVPAT by yourself without the intervention of the court? Why had the ECI objected to the VVPAT arrangement then?...No institution, including the courts, can consider itself to be over and above suggestions, or that it is beyond the scope of improvement", observed the Chief Justice.

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