The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a review petition filed submitted by 21 Opposition parties urging it to direct the Election Commission to cross-check at least 50% votes using Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, Bar and Bench reported.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Communist Party of India leader D Raja were present in the court for the hearing, according to Live Law. Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi requested the court to increase the VVPAT verification to 25% votes, saying the court had accepted the Opposition’s submissions on principle.
“We are not inclined to review our order,” Live Law quoted Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as saying.
A delegation led by Naidu had urged the top court to review its order from last month that VVPAT slips be used to verify votes for five electronic voting machines in every constituency during the ongoing elections instead of just one. The court had said this practice would ensure the “greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction” in the election process. The review plea claimed that the “increase from one to five was not a reasonable number”.
The Election Commission had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that verification of 50% of votes would delay the announcement of results by six days. Votes will be counted on May 23.
The parties that approached the court include the Congress, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the 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.
Opposition parties have raised doubts about the credibility of electronic voting machines several times in the last two years. However, the Election Commission has repeatedly denied allegations that the machines can be tampered with.
In a press conference in April, several Opposition leaders had brought up some of their concerns about the voting machines. Naidu had said instances of EVM “malfunctioning and selective manipulation” of the machines were reported in the first three phases of polling in his state, Kerala, Goa and Uttar Pradesh. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had said that while people are in a mood for a change in the government at the Centre and the state, “Our only worry is someone misusing this technology to manipulate elections...Our worry is manipulation through these machines [EVMs].”