Supreme Court issues notice to Election Commission on plea by 21 Opposition parties on VVPATs

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission of India based on a petition filed by 21 Opposition parties to verify at least 50% of the votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll body to respond on March 25, Live Law reported.

The petition also challenges the Election Commission’s decision to verify ballots cast at just one randomly selected booth in each constituency. The petitioners say this will tally only 0.44% of the votes. “This guideline defeats the entire purpose of VVPAT and makes it ‘ornamental’,” the plea said.

The parties also want stricter standards and safety norms instituted to prevent tampering of electronic voting machines.

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.

In February, Naidu had said that several Opposition parties will move the Supreme Court against EVMs. Naidu said the decision was taken during a meeting of 15 Opposition parties at Pawar’s residence.

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.

On January 24, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora reiterated that the country would not revert to using ballot papers for elections.

The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results declared on May 23.