Supreme Court dismisses new petition on verifying all votes with VVPAT, says ‘let country elect its government’
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking 100 per cent matching of voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the counting of general election votes on May 23.
A vacation bench of justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah refused to entertain the PIL on the ground that a larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, had already dealt with the matter. The PIL was filed by a Chennai-based organisation, Tech 4 All.
“The CJI has dealt with this matter. Why are you taking [a] 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,” justice Mishra said, refusing an urgent hearing on the matter. Before dismissing the PIL, the bench observed: “We would not entertain such a plea over and over again… can’t come in the way of people electing their representatives. Let the country elect its government.”
On May 7, the CJI’s bench had dismissed a review plea filed by 21 opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, to increase the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to 50%.
According to the opposition leaders, the system of 2 per cent random matching was inadequate and did not inspire confidence among voters.
The leaders had wanted the court to review its April 8 order directing the election commission to increase cross-checking of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths in every assembly segment for the Lok Sabha elections. The SC had said that such an increase would better satisfy both political parties and the people.
According to the PIL filed by the Chennai-based organisation, the EVM model for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was being tried out for the first time and there were reports about their malfunctioning across the country.Till the third phase of the elections, 49 of 303 constituencies had suffered due to EVM malfunctioning, the petition added, listing several such incidents reported in Odisha and Goa.
“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 petition said.
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