SC to hear on May 2 pleas against Centre’s 10% quota for EWS

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New Delhi, April 8: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Election Commission to increase the cross-examination of slips from VVPATs of five EVMs in every constituency instead of one in the Lok Sabha election 2019.
The top court’s order came in response to a petition filed by 21 opposition parties, which sought that 50% of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail must be verified. Many opposition parties claim that EVMs are susceptible to tampering and initially wanted that the government go back to use of paper ballots.
Many opposition parties claim that EVMs are susceptible to tampering and initially wanted that the government go back to use of paper ballots. After the Election Commission ruled it out, opposition parties demanded that at least 50% votes be verified.
“We are of the view that if the number of EVMs in respect of which the VVPAT is subjected to physical scrutiny is increased from one to five, neither additional manpower would be required nor will the declaration of results will be delayed by any substantial period of time,” the top court said.
VVPAT machines, attached to electronic voting machines, display the name of the candidate and their symbol on a piece of paper after a vote is cast. The voter can see the paper through a glass display for seven seconds before it drops into a sealed container.
“In fact, if the said number is increased to five, the process of verification can be done by the same team of officers,” it said.
The poll watchdog matches the VVPAT slips for only one polling booth in each constituency at present.
The 2019 Lok Sabha election would be the first where all voting machines would be attached with VVPAT machines but the poll body has not specified yet how many of these would be counted. It had engaged the Kolkata-headquartered Indian Statistical Institute for its recommendation.
The Election Commission had announced that VVPATs will be used in all polling stations along with EVMs while announcing the schedule of this summer’s general elections.
It had earlier rejected demands that 30% of the VVPAT slips should be counted. It had then argued that counting paper slips for a third of the country’s 87 lakh electors would be a logistical nightmare.
The Supreme Court in a 2013 judgment had held that VVPAT was an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. This judgment, argue the petitioners, made the VVPAT system inherent and intrinsic to the very basic structure of the Constitution. (Courtesy: HT)