The Election Commission on Wednesday sought an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court of its petition seeking the release of electronic voting machines that were used in Assembly elections held earlier this year and in 2020, PTI reported.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has agreed to hear the plea next week.

In its petition, the Election Commission submitted that voting machines and voter verified paper audit trail machines, or VVPATs, used in the Assembly polls were lying unused. They were being preserved in accordance with a Supreme Court order passed on April 27, the Election Commission said.

The VVPAT machines are seen as a way to ensure credibility in the voting process. Voting machines connected to VVPATs dispense a slip with the symbol of the party the voter has chosen, which proves that the machine has recorded the vote.

In April, the Supreme Court had relaxed the time limit for filing petitions that challenge the election of candidates in the Assembly polls. The voting machines and VVPAT machines used in the polls have been preserved as they could be used as evidence during the hearing of such pleas.

Four states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and the Union Territories of Puducherry went to polls earlier this year. Elections to the Delhi Assembly were held in February 2020.

On Wednesday, the Election Commission’s counsel Vikas Singh demanded that a timeline should be fixed for filing of pleas related to these polls. Singh told the court that the voting machines would be needed for upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, according to PTI.

The three states are expected to go to polls from February 2022.

Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Puducherry and Kerala were held between March 27 and April 29. The results were declared on May 2. The Delhi Assembly elections were held on February 8, 2020 and the results were declared on February 11, 2020.