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SC to Hear on April 16 Pleas Seeking Cross-Verification of VVPAT

SC to Hear on April 16 Pleas Seeking Cross-Verification of VVPAT

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NEW DELHI, Apr 9: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear a batch of pleas seeking cross-verification of the votes cast with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), on April 16.

The VVPAT is an independent vote verification system which enables an elector to see whether his vote was cast correctly. It generates a paper slip which can be viewed by the voter. It is kept in a sealed cover and can be opened in case of a dispute.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, which could not take up the petitions related to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), said it would consider all pleas in the matter for hearing on next Tuesday, three days before the first day of the seven-phase polling on April 19.

The top court had said on April 3 it would hear next week the plea filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with other matters after advocate Prashant Bhushan sought an urgent hearing.

On April 1, the top court sought responses from the Election Commission and the Centre on a plea by activist Arun Kumar Agrawal seeking a complete count of VVPAT slips in polls as opposed to the current practice of tallying slips from only five randomly selected EVMs from each assembly segment comprising a parliamentary constituency.

Both the pleas will now be taken up for hearing on April 16. The ADR has sought the court’s direction to the poll panel and the Centre to ensure the voters can verify through VVPATs that their vote has been “counted as recorded.”

The petition has sought to match the count in EVMs with votes that have been verifiably “recorded as cast” and to ensure that the voter can verify through the VVPAT slip that his vote, as recorded on the paper slip, has been “counted as recorded.”

The plea has 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.

“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.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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