Gujarat elections: SC dismisses Congress’ plea to verify VVPAT with electronic voting machine votes
The court said that it cannot interfere in the electoral process only to allay the apprehensions of one party.
The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Congress’ plea urging it to direct the Election Commission to verify at least 25% of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, or VVPAT, with votes cast using the electronic voting machines in the Gujarat Assembly elections.
The Congress later said that though the poll panel had acknowledged the need to verify VVPAT with votes cast using voting machines, it checks the paper trail in only one booth in a constituency. This, the party said, makes the rule ineffective.
There are close to 300-400 booths in each constituency, and checking just one does not make sense, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. “We we are not against EVMs per se but we want VVPAT with all machines, the sampling of voting on EVMs with the VVPAT trail be done in at least 10%-15% cases if not 25%.”
The top court said that it found no merit in the party’s plea, and that it cannot override the Election Commission’s complete discretion to conduct elections, The Times of India reported. The Supreme Court bench told Singhvi and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the party, that the electoral process is of utmost importance and the court cannot interfere in order to allay the apprehensions of just one party.
The court, however, told the counsel that the Congress can approach it again with a writ petition seeking electoral reforms. Singhvi said that the party would not only file a detailed petition as the court had instructed, but would also spearhead the discussion and debate on the matter.
Gujarat became the second state after Goa to use the VVPAT system that allows the voting machine to dispense a paper to the voters, allowing them to verify if their vote has been cast correctly. Both the first and second phase of Gujarat Assembly election polling was, however, marred by reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines.
A number of exit polls on Thursday predicted a comfortable win for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Assembly elections in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.