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SC orders sealing of symbol loading units; checking of burnt memory on candidates' request

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, which rejected plea for making VVPAT counts to 100% or use of ballot papers in polls, issued directions for strengthening the electoral process.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 12:51 IST
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 12:51 IST

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The Supreme Court on Friday (April 26) said a voting mechanism must uphold and adhere to the principles of security, accountability, and accuracy as an over complex system may engender doubt and uncertainty, thereby easing the chances of manipulation. 

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, which rejected plea for making VVPAT counts to 100% or use of ballot papers in polls, issued directions for strengthening the electoral process.

The court directed that upon completion of the symbol loading process in the VVPATs undertaken on or after May 01, 2024, the symbol loading units shall be sealed and secured in a container. 

"The candidates or their representatives shall sign the seal. The sealed containers, containing the symbol loading units, shall be kept in the strong room along with the EVMs at least for a period of 45 days post the declaration of results. They shall be opened, examined and dealt with as in the case of EVMs," the Supreme Court ordered.

The court also ordered the burnt memory/microcontroller in 5 per cent of the EVMs, that is, the control unit, ballot unit and the VVPAT, per assembly constituency/assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency should be checked and verified by the team of engineers from the manufacturers of the EVMs, post the announcement of the results, for any tampering or modification, on a written request made by candidates who are at number two or three, behind the highest polled candidate. 

Such candidates or their representatives should identify the EVMs by the polling station or serial number. All the candidates and their representatives shall have an option to remain present at the time of verification. Such a request should be made within a period of seven days from the date of declaration of the result. The District Election Officer, in consultation with the team of engineers, should certify the authenticity/intactness of the burnt memory/ microcontroller after the verification process is conducted, the court ordered. 

The court also clarified the actual cost or expenses for the said verification will be notified by the ECI, and the candidate making the said request will pay for such expenses. The expenses will be refunded, in case the EVM is found to be tampered, it said.

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Published 26 April 2024, 12:51 IST

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