VVPAT slips’ surprise checks must be more frequent: SC to EC

The Supreme Court said VVPAT checking at polling stations would increase voters’ confidence in the fairness of the electoral process

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EVM VVPAT
An EVM unit with a VVPAT apparatus

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission to ensure that more surprise checks of VVPAT slips are conducted. The court said this exercise in the coming Lok Sabha election would increase voters’ confidence in the process of counting of votes while they are exercising their franchise at polling stations.

The court has asked the commission to raise the number of polling stations where VVPAT slips will be checked from one to five centres.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjeev Khanna did not accept the request of leaders of 21 opposition parties that at least 50% of VVPAT units connected with EVM units should be matched.

The bench said that many people will be required to do this. Keeping organisational disadvantages in mind, this will not be possible, the court told the petitioners.

Leaders of 21 opposition parties, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, filed this petition for directing the commission to calculate at least 50% of slabs in the election.

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The application was made by 21 opposition parties including the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI (M), CPI, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Loktantrik Janata Dal and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The opposition leaders finalised the application after visiting opposition NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence.

In February, the parties had expressed their apprehensions in a meeting with the Election Commission regarding the credibility of the EVM although the poll panel had denied the allegations of manipulation of machines.

While announcing the dates for the Lok Sabha election, the commission had said that EVMs would be compulsorily checked by VVPAT at each polling station in every Lok Sabha constituency.

So far, there has been no scientific confirmation of tampering in EVMs. The commission says that it is impossible to manipulate their machines through programming because every machine is a standalone unit and none has any circuit with other machines. There are thousands of EVM machines used in an election and it would be a humongous exercise for a hacker to tamper with so many machines amid tight security.