21 parties file review petition in SC for 50% VVPAT verification
Citing issues with electronic voting machines (EVM) in the first few phases of polling for the Lok Sabha election, 21 opposition parties on Wednesday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court reiterating their demand for verification of 50% EVMs using voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips.
The petition claims that after the first phase of polling, in many cases, EVMs were found to be defective and faulty. “It has been reported that in some cases where voters would vote for one party, EVMs would record their vote having been cast for another party,” says the review petition.
The Election Commission of India (EC) has consistently maintained that the glitches experienced in the first three phases of the seven-phase election are within acceptable limits in terms of number of defects.
The commission did not respond to requests for a comment on the issue.
“In constituencies where EVMs or VVPATs were found defective, polling had to be delayed and, in some cases, went on till wee hours of the morning. Further, law and order problems were reported in many areas where supporters of political parties clashed against each other.
“In the State of Andhra Pradesh alone, polling had to be delayed in 618 polling booths and 20 polling booths reported law and order problems. These subsequent occurrences make mandatory random check against VVPAT even more crucial than before,” asserts the petition.
The Supreme Court, earlier this month, agreed with opposition parties that such matching of EVM counts to VVPAT output be increased.
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The court passed an order and directed the election commission to raise the VVPAT-EVM verification from one to five in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency, thereby raising the percentage of such EVM verification from 0.44% to 2%.
The petition says that an increase to a mere 2 % is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the order.
“Therefore, even though the petitioners have succeeded on the merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved of.”
The petition asserts that “credibility of EVMs has been seriously called into question which has changed the factual circumstances in which the impugned order was passed. The impugned order, therefore, deserves to be reviewed and the number of EVMs to be randomly checked against VVPAT deserves to be further increased.”
Speaking at a rally in Lohardaga in Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Opposition for targeting EVMs. “The Opposition tried their best to put up a brave face till the second phase. But after third phase yesterday [April 23], after polling was completed in around 3,000 seats, they conceded defeat. Now that they are tired of abusing Modi, they have trained their guns on EVMs,” he said