SC gives opposition a week to respond on VVPAT row

Supreme Court

New Delhi । The Supreme Court adjourned a plea seeking 50 per cent VVPAT count, and gave them until April 8 to file response to the Election Commission’s affidavit. This plea was filed by 21 opposition parties.

With less than a fortnight left for the first phase of the general elections to be held on April 11, the court sought the response, even as the EC in its affidavit on March 29, had urged for allowing the present system for the imminent elections.

Lok Sabha polls in seven phases April 11-May 19, vote count on May 23

The poll body had last Friday refused to entertain the opposition’s request for 50 per cent sample-matching of the EVMs with the corresponding Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs).

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna gave a week’s time to the opposition parties as their senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought time to file rejoinder to the stand taken by the EC.

Seeking the dismissal of the opposition’s plea, the Election Commission in its response have said that the opposition “does not raise any ground or base for altering” the existing system of sample checking.

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The poll body has urged the court that the “present system for the imminent elections be continued”, referring to the grievances raised by the opposition and relief sought.

It also added that “after due studies and tests it has arrived at the conclusion that the method as presently adopted has been found to be most suitable”.

Defending the EVMs, the polling body has said that “EVMs have completely eliminated the problem of invalid votes, which were in many cases more than the winning margin” in many constituencies.

EVM use has also substantially reduced the incidence of booth capturing during elections, it said, pointing out that the voting machines’ use has reduced the incidence of manual error in counting, which was earlier responsible for various disputes and demands for re-count.