Matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs: SC dismisses review plea of 21 Opposition leaders
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders seeking a review of its April 8 order directing the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment.
"We are not inclined to modify our order," a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The plea was filed by opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for petitioners, told the bench that the apex court had increased the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment and they are now seeking that it should be increased to 25 per cent at least.
"It will be for the satisfaction of confidence building measures," Singhvi tod the bench also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
Singhvi said the present increase of random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment amounted to a meagre two per cent and petitioners are seeking that it be raised to 25 per cent at least.
The apex court had on April 8 directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in five polling booths per assembly segment from one booth.
The top court, however, had not agreed to the demand of 21 Opposition leaders for counting of at least 50 percent of VVPAT slips with EVMs in every assembly segment.
The Opposition leaders had sought the review of the apex court's order, saying the "increase from 1 to 5 is not a reasonable number and does not lead to satisfaction desired by this court".
"The petitioners submit that the aforesaid increase to a mere 2 per cent is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order.
"Therefore, even though the petitioners have succeeded on merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved," the plea had said.
Referring to earlier observations of the apex court, it had said the 2 per cent increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs would not achieve the purpose of raising "public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process".
The plea had opposed the EC's argument, which was accepted by the court, that as the elections were nearby and hence it would not be viable to increase the number of random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs.
"It is submitted that, once this court agrees that the number of EVMs that should be subjected to VVPAT verification should be increased to a 'reasonable number', not increasing the same to a number which is 'reasonable' because it may not be 'viable' to do so renders the entire exercise otiose and futile," the plea had said.
Consequently, the 'viable number' must also necessarily be reasonable, it had said, alleging that at many booths in Andhra Pradesh the VVPAT machines were not working properly.