SC endorses paper trail in electronic voting machines
The Supreme Court on Tuesday offered legal endorsement to the Election Commission’s move to introduce paper trail in electronic voting machines (EVMs) saying that it would bring transparency and restore voters’ confidence.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi allowed the EC to use EVMs with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system in a gradual manner in the forthcoming elections.
The VVPAT is a system of having voting details on a printed papers from the time the voter casts his vote.
As an addition to the electronic record of the ballot, the trail will help verify the voter’s choice of candidate and allow for manual counting of votes in the event of a dispute over the result.
“We are satisfied that the ‘paper trail’ is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The confidence of the voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with the introduction of the “paper trail.” The EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system. With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in democratic system,” the bench said.
The court directed the Centre to provide all financial assistance for procurement of the EVMs with the VVPAT in order to use them in a phased manner. It passed the verdict on a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
According to election rules, the paper slips of VVPAT would not be counted normally except in cases where the returning officer decides to do so on the basis of an application given by the candidates.
The court noted that the EC had already shot off letter to the Union Government for issuing administrative and financial sanction for procurement of 20,000 units of VVPAT for use in coming elections at the cost of Rs 38.01 crore.
The VVPAT was used successfully in all the 21 polling stations of 51-Noksen (ST) assembly constituency of Nagaland.