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'There has to be sanctity in electoral process': SC tells EC to ensure no one has apprehensions over VVPAT
Image Credit: File image/ UNI

'There has to be sanctity in electoral process': SC tells EC to ensure no one has apprehensions over VVPAT

| @indiablooms | 18 Apr 2024, 05:35 pm

New Delhi: The Supreme Court told the Election Commission of India today that ‘there has to be sanctity in the electoral process,’ asking it to explain in detail the steps of cross-verifying VVPAT slips with EVMs, media reports said.

The Supreme Court was reviewing a string of petitions asking for thorough cross-verification of votes cast through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) using Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

VVPAT is a separate system for verifying votes that allows voters to confirm if their votes were recorded accurately.

Currently, VVPAT verification is conducted on just five randomly chosen EVMs in each assembly segment.

"This is (an) electoral process. There has to be sanctity. Let nobody have apprehension that something which is expected is not being done," the bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said, reported India Today.

On Thursday, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court it was pained over the comments regarding the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the report said.

The commission said it had made considerable effort over the past three years to meticulously prepare for elections.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing one of the petitioners, argued that voters should be permitted to take the VVPAT slip after casting their vote and then place it in a ballot box.

According to the report, Justice Dutta said, "This is an electoral process. There has to be sanctity. Let nobody have apprehension that something which is expected is not being done."

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said the glass of the VVPAT machine, which is black, should be transparent.

He cited a news report on complaints raised during the mock polls in Kerala’s Kasargod by both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) with the district collector about four EVMs had incorrectly recorded additional votes in favour of the BJP.

The Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to look into the issue after a case was filed in the matter.

The court asked the poll body whether the VVPAT machine has a printer. In response, the Election Commission said, "Yes. After loading, VVPAT is given the command to print, to ensure correct symbols are loaded. The returning officer and candidates sign (on it)."

The bench said that the programme memory cannot be tampered, responding to another query.

The Election Commission emphasized that all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) undergo mock drills prior to deployment for elections, and candidates are permitted to randomly select 5 percent of the machines for inspection. The commission reiterated that this process is repeated on the day of voting.

The poll body explained in detail about the VVPAT slip testing. It said, "Mock polls take place on polling day as well. VVPAT slips are taken out, counted and matched. All machines have different kinds of paper seals. At the time when the machine arrives for counting, the seal number can be checked."

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