Supreme Court rejects Opposition's petition on 50% VVPAT verification during counting of votes
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a review plea filed by twenty-one Opposition parties seeking a direction to increase Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) verification from five to at least 50 per cent of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes at the end of the ongoing elections.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was not inclined to modify its order where it had directed the Election Commission to increase VVPAT verification from the system of one EVM to five EVMs randomly selected in each Assembly constituency or Assembly segment in a parliamentary seat. Senior Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of the opposition parties, told the bench that VVPAT verification should be increased to at least 25 per cent of EVMs.
“We had earlier filed a petition, and today a review petition by 21 parties of India regarding increasing the VVPAT counting sample. The court has dismissed our plea today. We respect the court but we just want to make the electorate aware of the issue at hand,” Singhvi told reporters here. The Congress leader also raised a few contentions on the top court’s order. “The first point is that the court gave us a five-time increase in the VVPAT count in our first petition. The second point is that the court order of April 8 notes that it is important to undertake confidence-building measures which translate to a viable number being achieved in auto sample check,” he contended.
“The principal point in our review petition today was that having accepted our principle, the court has increased the number in a manner which has no real-life or practical application. All we are saying is that although we want an increase to 50 per cent, you may increase to at least 25 per cent,” he added. “We beseech the court to increase the VVPAT count by a substantial margin. Through our senior leaders, we want to inform the electorate about the matter,” he submitted.
The EC had earlier submitted in an affidavit to the top court, based on a study by the Indian Statistical Institute, that the confidence level would not vary by a substantial margin if the number of VVPAT count is increased from the current level. The confidence level for the current scenario lies around 99 per cent and thus the EC contends that the current system is good enough. Five phases of elections now stand completed, while two phases of polls are scheduled for May 12 and 19. Results will be declared on May 23.