Too late to use VVPAT machines in MCD polls, HC tells AAP

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Delhi Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

File photo of Delhi Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

Just two days ahead of municipal polls in Delhi, the Delhi High Court has dismissed Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) plea for using paper trail voting machines in the April 23 voting.

The High Court categorically refused to pass such a last minute order.

Justice AK Pathak said an order to use VVPAT (Voter-verified paper audit trail)-enabled Generation 2 or Generation 3 electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be issued at the eleventh hour as it would amount to stalling the election process.

The plea, filed by AAP and also Mohd Tahir Hussain, who is a candidate in the MCD elections, has contended that the EVMs that are to be used in the upcoming polls are obsolete and open to tampering.

However, before dismissing the plea, the court did ask the state election commission of Delhi why it did not opt for VVPAT EVMs in view of the Supreme Court’s observation in Subramanium Swamy’s case. In that case, the apex court had said that VVPAT EVMs machines should be brought into use in a phased manner.

In response, the Delhi poll panel said the question raised by the AAP on the use of EVMs in the MCD polls was sending a wrong message to the voters.

Earlier this week the union cabinet approved Election Commission’s proposal to purchase over 16 lakh paper trail machines worth ₹ 3174 crore. Cabinet’s decision came after there was a growing demand by the Opposition parties for the use of paper trail machines along with EVMs.

Several Opposition parties had alleged EVM-tampering in the five state Assembly polls held earlier this year. BSP, AAP and the Congress had even attacked the EC on the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs. A total of 16 parties had written the EC to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency.

The VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.

The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.

(With inputs from PTI)