Friday, May 24, 2024

SC rejects pleas seeking 100% cross-verification of EVM votes with VVPAT slips

Supreme Court of India on Friday rejected the pleas seeking 100% cross-verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) data with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) records.

Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta declared the verdict on Friday amid Lok Sabha polls phase 2 polling.

Referring to the conclusion of the judgments, Justice Sanjiv Khanna said in Court that the prayers for reverting to ballot paper voting, complete EVM-VVPAT verification, giving VVPAT slips to voters to put them in the ballot box have been rejected, Live Law reported.

“We have rejected all of them, after referring to the protocol in place, technical aspects and data which is on record,” Justice Khanna said.

The petitions had been filed by NGO-Association for Democratic Reforms, Abhay Bhakchand Chhajed and Arun Kumar Aggarwal. The petitioners prayed that instead of the prevalent procedure, where the Election Commission cross-verifies EVM votes with VVPATs in only 5 randomly selected polling stations in each assembly constituency, all VVPATs be verified. They further sought measures to ensure that a vote is ‘recorded as cast’ and ‘counted as recorded.’

Justice Khanna said they have given two directions, “One is the completion of the symbol loading process, and the Symbol Loading Unit should be stored at least for a period of 45 days.”

“The burnt memory in the microcontroller EVM shall be checked by a team of engineers after the declaration of results on a request by candidates in serial numbers 2 and 3, such a request to be made within 7 days after the declaration of results,” Justice Khanna said.

Justice Khanna added that the expenses for verification would be borne by the candidates making the request. However, if the EVM is found to be tampered with, the expenses will be refunded.

The top court said after the completion of the symbol loading process in the EVM on or after May 1, 2024, the SLU (Symbol loading units) would get sealed and stored in containers. The candidates and representatives will have to sign those sealed containers which will be kept in store rooms along with EVMs at least for 45 days after the declaration of the results.

“The burnt memory semicontroller in 5% of the EVMs that is the Control Unit, Ballot Unit, and the VVPAT per assembly constituency per parliamentary constituency shall be checked and verified by a team of engineers from the manufacturers of the EVM post the announcement of results on a written request by candidates 2 and 3,” the apex court added.

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