On May 21, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking physical counting of VVPAT slips of all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The public interest litigation was filed by a group of Chennai- based technocrats belonging to an NGO named ‘Tech4All’. According to the petitioners , the plea was aimed towards bring in more transparency and accuracy in the electoral process. It cited that there have been instances of EVM tampering which poses a question to the integrity of the entire electoral process.
SC states it as Mockery of Democracy
The Supreme Court struck down the petition stating that it is equivalent to making a mockery of democracy. It also said that it cannot keep entertaining such ‘nuisance’.
The Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, stated that all the seven phases of polling are over and the country is all set to welcome a new Government. The petition is ill timed and taking it forward would require a lot of man power and effort. It would disrupt the entire electoral process when it is nearing its end.
Use of VVPAT
VVPAT stands for Voter verifiable paper audit trail. It was introduced as a pilot project in Indian General Elections in 2014 in 8 constituencies namely- Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it has been introduced in all 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies.
A VVPAT system is aimed at detecting possible election fraud and allows the voter to verify that their vote was cast correctly. It is installed with the name of the candidate along with the party symbol.
Though VVPAT does add an element of accuracy to the electoral process, it is equally tricky to maintain it. It requires special external hardware which may be difficult to use. Also, since it is a recent introduction in the Indian electoral scene, some people involved in the electoral process might find it confusing and difficult to understand at first.
Indian Lok Sabha elections are one of the largest and most celebrated festivals of democracy in the world given the diversity of our electorate. The whole nation is now awaiting the result of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in utmost excitement. For the very first time, the results of EVMs will be matched with paper trail machine slips. This exercise will take place at 5 randomly selected polling stations per assembly segment.