Source: 
FirstPost
https://www.firstpost.com/india/supreme-court-vvpat-pleas-cross-verification-votes-13760068.html
Author: 
FP Staff
Date: 
18.04.2024
City: 

Currently, VVPAT slips of only five randomly-selected EVMs in each assembly constituency or each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency are physically verified

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, will hear a batch of pleas seeking cross-verification of the votes cast with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in polls.

The petitions will be heard by a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta. On April 3, the apex court said it would hear the plea filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with other matters after advocate Prashant Bhushan sought an urgent hearing.

What’s ADR plea that SC will hear today?

In 2023, the ADR had filed a plea contending the Supreme Court-mandate procedure through which the Election Commission of India (ECI) cross-verifies Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) with the VVPATs in only five randomly selected polling stations in each assembly constituency, is deficient.

News18

The plea sought the top court’s direction to the ECI and the Centre to ensure the electorates get to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been “counted as recorded”. It said every electorate has a fundamental right to verify that their vote has been “recorded as cast” and “counted as recorded”.

The plea also sought to match the count in EVMs with votes that have been verifiably “recorded as cast”.

The petition further said the poll body has provided no procedure for every voter to verify that their vote has been ‘counted as recorded’ which is an indispensable part of voter verifiability.

The ECI filed a counter affidavit in the matter, saying all VVPAT paper slips manually would be labour and time-intensive and will be prone to human error and mischief.

On April 1, the SC sought a response from the ECI and the Central government on a plea by activist Arun Kumar Agarwal who sought a complete count of VVPAT paper slips in elections as opposed to the current practice.

In his plea, Agarwal said if simultaneous verification is done and more officers are deployed for counting, the complete VVPAT verification can be done in 5-6 hours.

What happens now?

At present, VVPAT slips of only five randomly selected EVMs in each assembly constituency or each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency are physically verified.

The government buys nearly 24 lakh VVPATs but paper slips of only around 20,000 such machines alone are physically counted.

What is VVPAT?

VVPAT is an independent vote verification system that lets voters see whether his/her vote was cast correctly. It generates a paper slip that can be viewed by the voter and is kept in a sealed cover. However, it can be opened in case of a dispute.

The matter will be heard by the Supreme Court just days ahead of the first of seven phase Lok Sabha polls 2024 on Friday, April 19.

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