An electoral official demonstrates the functioning of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during a training programme ahead of Lok Sabha elections (PTI/File)
The Supreme Court Monday ordered the Election Commission to increase random sampling of EVMs using VVPAT from the current one EVM per assembly segment to 5. The order comes on a plea filed by 21 Opposition parties that have sought directions to the poll body to randomly verify at least 50 per cent of electronic voting machines (EVMs) using voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips in the assembly and general elections beginning Thursday.
The Supreme Court said it is increasing sample verification of VVPAT slips keeping in mind confidence of voters and credibility of electoral process.
In the earlier hearings, the Election Commission told the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that it was in the favour of continuing the existing system of random checking of VVPAT slips from one EVM per assembly segment for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls. It also said the results would be delayed by six whole days if the Opposition parties’ demand is met.
The Opposition, however, countered the EC’s reply stating that they do not mind the delay in results, saying it is not a “serious delay” if it ensures the integrity of the electoral process. “If delay of 5.2 days is to be balanced with the integrity of electoral process, the balance will certainly tilt towards the latter,” they said in an affidavit submitted to the court.
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The petitioners include Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, Sharad Chandra Pawar of the NCP, Congress leader K C Venugopal, TMC leader Derek O’Brien, Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra of the BSP, DMK leader M K Stalin, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and National Congress leader Farooq Abdullah.
The Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 this year. The counting of votes for all phases will take place on May 23 and results will also be declared on the same day.