Plea for cross-verification of EVMs with VVPAT by voters: SC adjourns PIL saying no urgency

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned till November the hearing on a plea by an NGO seeking cross-verification by voters of the votes cast by them through the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti deferred the case, saying there is no urgency in this.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, submitted there is an urgency as elections are coming up.

“Mr Prashant Bhushan, how many times will this issue be raised? Every six months, this issue is freshly raised. There is no urgency in this. Let it come up in due course…

“Mr Prashant Bhushan prays for and is granted one week’s time to file a rejoinder affidavit. List in the month of November,” the bench said.

The top court on July 17 sought the response of the Election Commission of India to a plea by the NGO.

In the instant petition, the NGO has sought direction to the poll panel and the Centre to ensure the voters are able to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been “counted as recorded”.

It also sought to declare as unconstitutional the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and the practice and procedure of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to the extent that they violate the fundamental right of the voters to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been “recorded as cast” and “counted as recorded”.

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The plea said the requirement of the voters verifying that their votes have been “recorded as cast” is somewhat met when the VVPAT slip is displayed for about seven seconds after pressing the button on the EVM through a transparent window for the voters to verify that their vote has been recorded on the internally printed VVPAT slip before the slip falls into the ‘ballot box’.

“However, there is a complete vacuum in law as the ECI has provided no procedure for the voter to verify that her vote has been counted as recorded’ which is an indispensable part of voter verifiability. The failure of the ECI to provide for the same is in the teeth of purport and object of the directions issued by this Court in Subramanian Swamy versus Election Commission of India, (2013 verdict), the plea said. 

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