The Supreme Court on Monday ordered that Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips of five electronic voting machines in every constituency should be counted instead of just one EVM in the upcoming elections, Bar and Bench reported.
The electronic voting machines will be randomly selected, according to The Hindu. The court said this practice will ensure the “greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction” in the election process.
“At the outset we would like to observe we are not doubting it may be possible that the system gives accurate results,” said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in the order. “But if the number increases, it would increase the greater satisfaction - the endeavour is to find to find a viable number of VVPAT,” he said, according to Live Law.
The Election Commission said it shall “make all out efforts to operationalise and implement the directions of the court with immediate effect”.
At present, the Election Commission matches VVPAT paper slips of 4,125 electronic voter machines under the one EVM per assembly segment rule. With the Supreme Court ruling, the poll body will have to count VVPAT slips of 20,625 electronic voting machines, The Times of India reported.
The court was hearing a petition filed by 21 Opposition parties who sought direction to verify at least 50% of the votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines.
The Election Commission had filed an affidavit citing logistical difficulties in verifying 50% VVPAt slips, which would delay the announcement of results by six days. The Supreme Court had earlier asked the poll body if it can increase the number of VVPAT machines.
The leaders of the 21 Opposition parties later filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that a delay of 5.2 days in the declaration of election results was not a serious one if it maintains the integrity of the process.
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, Derek O’Brien for the Trinamool Congress, Farooq Abdullah for the 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 instituted 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.