The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission on a Congress petition to seek directions on the use of VVPATs and CCTVs in the coming Gujarat assembly elections.
The petitioner sought a series of directions on Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) displays for 13 seconds instead of seven seconds, so that all voters get more time to confirm their votes have been correctly registered/recorded, and also on relay of closed-circuit television footage from a polling station to those stationed outside.
The Congress also sought counting of votes through paper trail in case of objections on votes counted through electronic voting machines.
Asking petitioner Prakash Joshi to serve the petition's copy on the Attorney General and the Election Commission's standing counsel, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the next hearing on October 30.
Kapil Sibal, appearing for petitioner Congress, earlier addressed the court on the issue and sought an early date for hearing on the ground that the Election Commission was poised to issue a notification for the Gujarat elections.
Lawyer Aljo K. Joseph, who filed the petition on behalf of Joshi, said the petition has been filed by the Congress and that the petitioner is an All India Congress Committee Secretary.
He said the Congress had represented to the Election Commission in September on the issues raised before the top court, but the party did not get a proper reply from the poll panel.
The petitioner-party also sought directions that no criminal be released on parole during elections, and that officials with tainted reputation not be assigned election duties.
Seeking display of CCTV footage outside polling stations, including display of number of voters who have exercised their franchise, so that no manipulation can be done inside polling booths, the Congress sought that the VVPAT prints should exist in record for a longer duration from the present three months.
Besides, Sibal said, the party had prayed that in case of objections, random counting of votes to the extent of 10 per cent of the total votes cast at a polling booth should be taken up.