Source: 
Navhind Times
https://www.navhindtimes.in/2024/04/17/nationalnews/sc-deprecates-calls-for-return-to-ballot-papers/
Author: 
Navhind Times
Date: 
17.04.2024
City: 
New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deprecated criticism of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and calls for reverting to ballot papers, saying the electoral process in India is a “humongous task” and attempts should not be made to “bring down the system”.

It also recalled how polling booths were captured in the era of ballot papers to manipulate election results.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of the votes cast using EVMs with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), an independent vote verification system which enables an elector to see whether his vote was cast correctly.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta was critical of the argument that many European countries have gone back to ballot papers after having tried out voting machines.

“This is a humongous task. No European country can do this. You talked about Germany but what is the population there. My home state West Bengal is far more populous than Germany. We have to repose faith and trust in the electoral process. Don’t try to bring down the system like this,” Justice Datta told advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’.

Bhushan had pitched for a return to ballot papers while citing the German example.

The bench said there were roughly 98 crore registered voters in India.

“There will be some mismatch in vote count due to some human errors but it can be countered and checked,” it said.

Justice Khanna, while referring to booth capturing in the past, said, “Mr Bhushan, we are all in our 60s. We have seen what used to happen earlier when there were no EVMs. We don’t need to tell you.”

Maintaining that he is not casting any aspersion on the Election Commission or saying that EVMs have been manipulated, Bhushan said his only point is that these polling machines can be tinkered with.

Normally, human intervention in a process creates problems including bias, while machines, without any wrong human intervention, work properly and give accurate results, Justice Khanna told Bhushan.

The bench posed a barrage of questions to the Election Commission officials present in the court about the functioning of EVMs, their storage and the possibility of data manipulation.

“We want you to apprise us of each and every detail from point A to Z on the EVMs, right from their assembling to storage after the counting of votes,” the bench told senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Election Commission.

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