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Business News/ News / India/  ‘We cannot control the election…,’ says Supreme Court as it reserves verdict on EVM-VVPAT verification
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‘We cannot control the election…,’ says Supreme Court as it reserves verdict on EVM-VVPAT verification

Supreme Court order on EVM-VVPAT verification: The Supreme Court of India reserved its verdict on Wednesday, April 24, on the plea regarding the verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs).

A Supreme Court bench had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) on April 18 (ANI)Premium
A Supreme Court bench had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) on April 18 (ANI)

The Supreme Court of India reserved its verdict on Wednesday, April 24, on the plea regarding the verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) as it reiterated its stance that it lacks authority over the conduct of elections, which falls under the purview of another constitutional body. 

The decision comes amidst the impending phase two of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 scheduled for April 26.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, who had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) on April 18, had earlier said it needs clarification on certain aspects as there was some confusion in answers given by the EC in its 'frequently asked questions' (FAQs) on EVMs.

During the hearing, Supreme Court Judge Datta pointed out to advocate Prashant Bhushan that no incidence of malicious program loading with the symbol had been reported. “Out of the 5% VVPATs counted, any candidate can show if there is any mismatch," Justice Datta queried.

“Till date there is no report of any such incident (malicious program being loaded along with the symbol). We cannot control the election Mr Bhushan, we cannot control another constitutional authority," Justice Datta remarked.

Justice Khanna reassured, "If there is room for improvement, we can certainly enhance it. The courts intervened twice: first, when we mandated the use of VVPAT, and second, when we increased the verification from one to five percent." The Supreme Court also emphasized that whenever suggestions were sought to enhance the voting process, the submissions consistently advocated for a return to ballot papers’.

In its defense, the Election Commission official told the apex court, “Each of the three units, CU, BU, and VVPAT, contains its own microcontrollers, securely housed within. These microcontrollers cannot be physically accessed."

The order came during the apex court's hearing of a clutch of petitions seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs. 

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.

The pleas also demand that voters be allowed a canopy of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) produced by EVM after each vote.

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

Earlier this morning, the SC bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Dutta had posed questions regarding the functions of the microcontroller installed in the EVMs, securing the EVMs and VVPATs, and the maximum period for which the machines are to be retained.

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Sayantani
Sayantani is a Chief Content Producer with Livemint. Her interests are politics, war, and conflict. Off-duty, she explores cultural history and the 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed'
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Published: 24 Apr 2024, 02:46 PM IST
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