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Indian Supreme Court dismisses plea for full EVM-VVPAT verification, rejects paper ballot return

ANM Desk

The Supreme Court of India delivered a significant verdict on Friday regarding the verification of votes cast using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The court rejected the plea for a 100 percent verification of votes with slips printed by Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, as well as the suggestion to revert to paper ballots.


Option open to request “checking and verification” of EVMs

In a crucial move, the court granted candidates the option to request a proportion of EVMs to be “checked and verified” by a team of engineers from EVM manufacturers after the announcement of results. However, candidates must submit a written request for this verification, and the expenses incurred will be determined by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The decision was reached by a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, who examined the technical aspects and protocols surrounding EVMs. Justice Datta emphasized the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective and avoiding blind distrust in the electoral system. He stressed the need for evidence-based approaches to facilitate improvements and enhance the credibility of the electoral process.


Court suggests ensuring security measures for EVMs

Justice Khanna suggested exploring the possibility of using electronic machines to count paper slips, along with introducing barcode to represent political parties. Additionally, the court issued two directives related to the handling of EVMs and VVPATs.

Firstly, it mandated the sealing and securing of Symbol Loading Units (SLUs) in containers after the symbol loading process in VVPATs. These containers will be stored in strong rooms alongside EVMs for a minimum of 45 days following the declaration of results. Secondly, the court ordered the verification of burnt memory semi-controllers in 5 percent of EVMs per assembly segment, upon the request of candidates.

Candidates or their representatives can identify specific EVMs for verification within seven days of the result declaration. They will have the option to observe the verification process, and expenses incurred will be refunded if tampering is not detected.

The court’s decision comes after extensive deliberation on various pleas, including calls for a return to paper ballots and demands for increased transparency in the electoral process. While rejecting these pleas, the court underscored the importance of fostering trust and collaboration to strengthen democracy.

The verdict marks a significant development in India’s electoral landscape, as it addresses concerns surrounding the integrity of EVMs and reinforces the accountability of electoral authorities. By allowing for targeted verification of EVMs and implementing additional safeguards, the court aims to uphold the principles of transparency and fairness in the electoral process.

Political parties, electoral stakeholders, and citizens alike will closely monitor the implementation of the court’s directives. These directives are expected to have far-reaching implications for future elections in the country. As India continues to navigate the complexities of its democratic framework, the Supreme Court’s ruling serves as a milestone in ensuring the integrity and reliability of its electoral system.

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