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Supreme Court seeks Election Commission reply on plea for complete count of VVPAT slips

The Supreme Court issued notice to the Election Commission on a plea seeking the counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi New Delhi Updated on: April 02, 2024 6:17 IST
The top court issued the notice and tagged the VVPAT plea
Image Source : PIB The top court issued the notice and tagged the VVPAT plea with pending matters on the issue.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Election Commission and the Centre regarding a petition seeking a complete count of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in elections, contrasting with the current practice of verifying only five randomly chosen EVMs through VVPAT paper slips.

The VVPAT is an autonomous vote verification system that enables a voter to confirm whether their vote was recorded accurately. The VVPAT generates a paper slip that displays the voter's chosen candidate's name or symbol. This paper slip is visible to the voter through a transparent window for a few seconds, allowing them to verify their vote. The paper slip is then stored in a sealed container attached to the EVM and can be used as a physical record for verification in case of any dispute regarding the electronic voting results.

On April 8, 2019, the Supreme Court instructed the Election Commission to raise the number of EVMs subjected to VVPAT physical verification from one to five per assembly segment within a parliamentary constituency.

A bench comprising justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta took note of the submissions of lawyers representing activist Arun Kumar Agrawal seeking a complete count of VVPAT slips in elections as opposed to the verification of only five randomly-selected EVMs through VVPAT paper slips.

Supreme Court issues notice 

The Supreme Court issued notices to both the Election Commission (EC) and the central government regarding the plea, which is expected to be scheduled for a hearing on May 17. 

Senior lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan and advocate Neha Rathi represented Agrawal in court.

Here's what plea states 

The plea assailed the EC's guideline that mandates that VVPAT verification shall be done sequentially, one after the other.

The plea said if simultaneous verification is done and more officers are deployed for counting in each assembly constituency, then complete VVPAT verification can be done in a matter of five-six hours.

The government has spent nearly Rs 5,000 crore on the purchase of nearly 24 lakh VVPATs but presently, VVPAT slips of only approximately 20,000 VVPATs are verified, it said.

Given that many questions are being raised by experts with regard to VVPATs and EVMs and the fact that a large number of discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT vote count have been reported in the past, it is imperative that all VVPAT slips are counted and a voter is given an opportunity to properly verify that his vote as cast in the ballot is also counted by allowing him to physically drop his/her VVPAT slip in the ballot box, the plea said.

The top court issued the notice and tagged it with pending matters on the issue.

(With PTI inputs)

Also Read: BJP asks Election Commission to take action against Rahul Gandhi for his 'match-fixing' remarks

Also Read: Congress declares two more candidates, fields Abhay Patil against Prakash Ambedkar in Maharashtra's Akola

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