SC to pronounce directions on pleas for cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with VVPAT

SC to pronounce directions on pleas for cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with VVPAT

New Delhi | The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Wednesday certain directions on a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

The VVPAT is an independent vote verification system which enables electors to see whether their votes have been cast correctly.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta is scheduled to pronounce the directions on the plea in which order was reserved by the apex court on April 18.

Underscoring the importance of voter satisfaction and trust in the electoral system, the top court had during the hearing told petitioners, who sought its direction to go back to using ballot papers not to suspect the efficacy of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and appreciate if the Election Commission does good work.

NGO 'Association for Democratic Reforms' (ADR), one of the petitioners, sought reversal of the poll panel's 2017 decision to replace the transparent glass on VVPAT machines with an opaque glass through which a voter can see the slip only when the light is on for seven seconds.

During the hearing, which spanned for nearly two days, the bench had interacted for nearly an hour with senior Deputy Election Commissioner Nitesh Kumar Vyas to understand the functioning of EVMs and told advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO that voter satisfaction and trust are at the core of the electoral process.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Election Commission, had submitted that EVMs are standalone machines and cannot be tampered with but possibility of human error cannot be ruled out.

On April 16, the top court had deprecated criticism of EVMs and calls for reverting to ballot papers, saying the electoral process in India is a "humongous task" and attempts should not be made to "bring down the system".

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls began on April 19 and the second phase is slated to be held on April 26.

The ADR has sought matching the count in EVMs with votes that have been verifiably "recorded as cast" and to ensure the voter is able to verify through VVPAT slip that his vote, as recorded on the paper slip, has been "counted as recorded".

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