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Vote of confidence: SC issues notice to ECI on 100% VVPAT Verification

By IndianMandarins- 02 Apr 2024
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New Delhi (02.04.2024): The Supreme Court of India (SC) on Monday issued notice on a petition seeking counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections, instead of verification of only five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.

The petition further challenges EC's guideline that mandates that VVPAT verification shall be done sequentially, i.e. one after the other, causing undue delay. The petition contends that if simultaneous verification is done and more officers are deployed for counting in each assembly constituency, then complete VVPAT verification can be done in a matter of 5-6 hours. The petitioner argued that while the government has spent nearly Rs 5000 crore on the purchase of nearly 24 lakh VVPATs, presently VVPAT slips of only approximately 20,000 VVPATs are verified.

The petitioner seeks four reliefs:

(i) That the respondent ECI mandatorily cross verify the count in EVMs with votes that have been verifiably 'recorded as cast' by the voter through the VVPATs by counting all VVPAT paper slips;

(ii) That Guideline No. 14.7(h) of the Manual on Electronic Voting Machine and VVPAT dated August 2023 as framed and issued by Election Commission of India be quashed, in so far as it allows only sequential verification of VVPAT slips resulting in undue delay in counting of all VVPAT slips;

(iii) That the ECI allow a voter to physically drop the VVPAT slip as generated by the VVPAT in a ballot box to ensure that the voter's ballot has been 'counted as recorded'; and/or

(iv) That the respondents make the glass of the VVPAT machine transparent and the duration of the light long enough for the voter to see the paper recording his vote cut and drop into the drop box Senior Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Neha Rathi appeared for the petitioner.

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