Opposition leaders move SC, seek review of order on matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

Twenty one opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, moved the Supreme Court Wednesday seeking review of its April 8 order which directed the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment in the ongoing general elections.

Naidu, who had earlier sought 50 per cent random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs, has sought the review of the apex court’s order saying that the “increase from 01 (one) to 05 (five) is not a ‘reasonable number’ and does not lead to the satisfaction desired by this court”.

The plea, which has been filed after the conclusion of third phase of polls, said: “The petitioners submit that the aforesaid increase to a mere 2 per cent is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order.

“Therefore, even though the Petitioners have succeeded on the merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved of.”

Referring to earlier observations of the apex court, it said that the 2 per cent increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs would not achieve the purpose of raising “public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process”.

The plea opposed the Election Commission (EC) argument, which was accepted by the court, that as the elections were nearby and hence it would not be viable to increase the number of random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs.

“It is submitted that, once this court agrees that the number of EVMs that should be subjected to VVPAT verification should be increased to a ‘reasonable number’, not increasing the same to a number which is ‘reasonable’ because it may not be ‘viable’ to do so renders the entire exercise otiose and futile,” the plea said.

Consequently, the ‘viable number’ must also necessarily be reasonable, it said, adding that at many booths the Andhra Pradesh the VVPAT machines were not working properly.

“In the State of Andhra Pradesh alone, polling had to be delayed I deferred in 618 polling booths and 20 polling booths reported law and order problems,” it said.

The top court on April 8 directed the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment, from one at present, in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

It had said that the increase would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but the entire electorate.

The apex court however had not agreed to the demand of 21 Opposition leaders for counting of at least 50 percent of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in every assembly segment.

EC currently follows a system of random counting of VVPAT slips in one polling booth per assembly segment of a Parliamentary or Assembly constituency.

The apex court had disposed of the plea filed by 21 opposition leaders.