Opposition reacts with ’terrible disappointment’ as Supreme Court rejects EVM-VVPAT verification pleas

The Supreme Court rejected a plea for complete cross-verification of votes cast via EVMs with VVPAT. A Trinamool Congress MP called the decision a 'terrible disappointment'. Former CM Baghel says 100% VVPAT slip verification should occur.

Livemint
Updated26 Apr 2024
Lok Sabha polls 2024: Polling officials collect the EVMs, VVPATs and other polling materials for their respective polling booths
Lok Sabha polls 2024: Polling officials collect the EVMs, VVPATs and other polling materials for their respective polling booths(Anuwar Hazarika )

The Supreme Court of India on Friday rejected the pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). 

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar has called the decision, a “Terrible disappointment”. On X (formerly Twitter), Sircar wrote, “Election Commission has sunk in public esteem in last 8-10 years with three of Modi-bhakts as Chief ECs. Heavens would not fall if 100% tally is done!”

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel told ANI news agency, “We respect SC order, but 100% verification of VVPAT slips should happen.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), alleged that EVMs and VVPATs have programmable chips that can be loaded with a malicious programme to manipulate votes.

‘Vague & baseless…’: SC rejects pleas for 100% EVM-VVPAT verification

Bhushan on X added, “We had asked the SC to either: Go back to paper ballots, or Give VVPAT slip to the voter to put in a ballot box & then count VVPAT slips, or keep the light on in the VVPAT machine & count all the slips. Today only 2% of VVPAT slips are matched with EVM. SC today rejected our demands.”

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta delivered two concurring verdicts and dismissed all the pleas in the matter.

Supreme Court on EVM-VVPAT cross-verification: What judges said in the verdict?

The top court issued two directives. One is to seal and store units used to load symbols for 45 days after the symbols have been loaded into electronic voting machines in strong rooms.

No 100% verification of EVM-VVPATs, says SC: 'Blindly distrusting poll process…’

Second, it allowed engineers of the EVM manufacturers to verify the microcontroller of the machines after the declaration of the results at the request of candidates who stood second and third. The request for the verification needs to be made within seven days of the declaration of the results after payment of fees, the court said.

“If EVM is found tampered during verification, fees paid by the candidates will be refunded,” it added.

An EVM comprises three units: the ballot unit, the control unit, and the VVPAT. All three are embedded with microcontrollers that have burnt memory from the manufacturer. Currently, VVPATs are used in five booths per assembly constituency.

One of the petitioners, the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), had sought a 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 petitioners have also sought the court's direction to revert to the old system of ballot papers.

 

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HomeNewsIndiaOpposition reacts with ’terrible disappointment’ as Supreme Court rejects EVM-VVPAT verification pleas

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