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Top Court Seeks Poll Body Reply On Petition For VVPAT Slips' Complete Count

Top Court Seeks Poll Body Reply On Petition For VVPAT Slips' Complete Count


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

New Delhi:

In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Election Commission and the Centre on a plea seeking a complete count of VVPAT slips in polls as opposed to the current practice of verification of only five randomly selected EVMs through VVPAT paper slips.

The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent vote verification system which permits an elector to see whether his vote was cast correctly.

The VVPAT generates a paper slip which can be viewed by the voter and the paper slip is kept in a sealed cover and can be opened in case of a dispute.

The top court, on April 8, 2019, had ordered the poll panel to increase the number of EVMs that undergo VVPAT physical verification from one to five per assembly segment in a parliamentary constituency.

A bench comprising justices BR 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.

It issued notices to the Election Commission (EC) and the central government on the plea which may be listed for hearing on May 17.

Senior lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan and advocate Neha Rathi appeared for Agrawal.

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. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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