SC asks EC to clarify if VVPAT match can be increased

SC. File photo for representation

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Election Commission to tell what "insurmountable difficulty" it would face if court orders to increase VVPAT match from the current system from one polling station in one Assembly segment.

The top court ordered the EC to clarify its stand by Thursday. It decided to hear a plea by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and 20 other Opposition leaders on April 1.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta quizzed Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Gupta who maintained that the poll panel was fully satisfied with the current system of matching VVPAT from one polling station in one Assembly segment.

"Why can't VVPAT match be increased by the Election Commission on its own. No institution including judiciary should insulate itself from improvement," the bench observed.

The court had earlier sought the Election Commission's response on a plea by 21 opposition party leaders for a direction to count Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips of 50 per cent of EVMs in each constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The court had then directed the EC to depute an officer to assist the court.

Senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, who appeared for the leaders, said it would not take more than three and four hours additional time if the VVPAT match was increased.

The plea was filed by several opposition leaders, including Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, K C Venugopal, Derek Obrain, Sharad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra, M K Stalin, T K Rangrajan, Manoj K Jha, Farooq Abdullah, S S Reddy, Danish Ali, Ajit Singh, Mohd Badruddin Ajmal, Jitin Ram Majhi, and others.

Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are used in all polling stations but results of EVMs and VVPATs are matched in one polling station per constituency.

The petitioners urged that the EC should ensure that 50% of the EVM results were matched and cross-checked with VVPATs before it declared the results in the Lok Sabha election.

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SC asks EC to clarify if VVPAT match can be increased

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