SC to hear 21 opposition leaders' plea on VVPAT next week

By  IANS | Updated:  May 04, 2019, 08:45 AM

sci lok sabha elections 2019

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a review plea by 21 Opposition leaders seeking to increase the verification of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing polls. The court will hear the matter next week.

On April 8, the top court had directed the Election Commission to increase the VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths in each assembly segment of the Parliamentary constituency. 

Opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu told the court that "increase from 1 to 5 is not a reasonable number and does not lead to satisfaction desired by this court", and that the court should review its order.

The plea was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. It was referred to as an urgent plea. 

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for petitioners, informed the court that the review plea be listed for hearing next week. 

The court accepted Singhvi's submission and ordered accordingly. 

The Supreme Court had on Monday increased voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) from one EVM per Assembly segment to five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Earlier, increasing the poll booths for verification, the court said this was being done to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy and satisfaction in the election process. 

The plea by leaders of 21 opposition parties wanted verification to be hiked to 50 per cent of EVM's per Assembly segment.

The court's earlier order was seen as a major setback for the opposition parties as the court has merely increased the quantum of EVM verification using paper trail by 1.99 per cent, that is, out of total 10.35 lakh EVMs, only 20,625 will be used in counting to verify results.

As per apex court's direction, the VVPAT slips of 5 EVMs in every place will be subjected to physical counting. The court noted that increasing the VVPAT would neither require additional manpower nor delay the results of the Lok Sabha elections. 

During the hearing, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll panel several question regarding the information mentioned on the slips and the process in place to authenticate the genuineness of these paper slips. 

The court had noted that the EC had put a query before the Indian Statistical Institute regarding a reasonable sample size to verify the EVMs. The institute had responded that a sample of 479 EVMs would generate 99.99 per cent accuracy in results. 

The opposition parties had demanded raising the number of EVM machines to 5.17 lakh.

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