The Supreme Court on Monday asked 21 Opposition leaders to reply within a week to the Election Commission’s affidavit on their plea about the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail slips in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, reported Live Law.

The Opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, had sought that VVPAT slips of at least 50% voting machines in each Assembly constituency be checked randomly during the General Elections. The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.

The Election Commission on Friday said the plea should be dismissed as it was not based on scientific logic or statistics. In its affidavit, the poll body said the petitioners have not been able to give reasons for changing the existing system of random counting of VVPAT slips from one polling booth per Assembly segment. The Election Commission also pointed out logistical difficulties in carrying out 50% verification of VVPAT, and said it will delay the announcement of results by at least six days.

The parties that have approached the court include the Congress, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, the Trinamool Congress, National Conference, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The parties want stricter standards and safety norms to prevent tampering of electronic voting machines.

Opposition parties have raised doubts about the credibility of electronic voting machines a number of times in the last two years. However, the Election Commission has repeatedly denied allegations that the machines can be tampered with.

On January 24, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora reiterated that the country would not revert to using ballot papers for elections.