A vacation bench of the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, scrapped a PIL seeking 100 per cent matching of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes on May 23 for the general elections.
The bench, comprising of justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah, refused to entertain the PIL filed by Tech 4 All, a Chennai based organisation, observing that a larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, has already dealt with the matter and passed an order.
“The CJI had dealt with this matter. Why are you taking chance before a two-judge vacation bench? We will not list any such case for urgent hearing.
“We cannot override the CJI’s order. This is nonsense,” observed the bench.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on May 7, rejected a review petition filed by 21 opposition parties seeking a direction to the Election Commission (EC) to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50 per cent of EVMs during the counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections on May 23.
The review plea was filed by the opposition parties on April 24.
The SC had earlier too declined the demand for matching of EVM-VVPAT results in 50 per cent cases, saying it will require huge manpower and will not be feasible in view of infrastructural difficulties.
However, the court directed the Election Commission to increase VVPAT verification from one EVM per constituency to five randomly selected EVMs in the elections.
Directing the EC, the top court had said, “Increasing the VVPAT verification from one EVM per constituency to five was to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy and satisfaction in the electoral process by both the political parties and the voters.”
The plea filed by Tech 4 All said the EVM model employed for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections was used for the first time and there have been reports about malfunctioning of EVMs throughout the country.
“It is reported that till the third phase of the Lok Shaba Election 2019, 49 out of 303 constituencies, that is 1/6th of constituencies suffered due to EVM malfunctioning,” the plea said, citing examples of the states of Odisha and Goa where malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs have allegedly been detected.
The plea said that in Odisha, the VVPAT machine meant for Parliamentary constituency was mistakenly attached to the Control unit and Ballot unit meant for Assembly constituency and the mistake was detected after 22 votes were cast in the newly replaced VVPAT.
“This is because the pairing was done wrongly. This clearly proves that M3 controlling unit is technologically incapable of identifying its pair accepting and feeding any pair connected to it,” the plea said.
It also said that during the mocks polls in Goa, the entire set of EVM was replaced after complaints from one of the booth agents.
The plea said that as a short term solution to achieve total satisfaction among the electorate, the number of machines subject to verification of VVPAT should be increased to 100 per cent.
“As technocrats, we submit, in the long term the EVM should be replaced by Optical Ballot Scan machine which upholds the Tangible secret ballot system, verifiable even by a common man coupled with cost effectiveness,” the plea said.
(With PTI inputs)