As India gets ready to plunge into the world’s largest electoral exercise within less than a month, the Supreme Court has favoured the idea of conducting more random physical verification of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), “for the sake of purity of the elections”.
In February, 21 opposition parties had filed a petition in the apex court, demanding for increasing the random VVPAT-EVM verification to at least 50% for all assembly and constituency elections for better transparency. Hearing to the case on Tuesday, CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led bench of Supreme Court judges favoured increasing the number of random physical verification of VVPATs and their respective EVMs for parliamentary and assembly elections – contradicting the stiff resistance from the Election Commission for increasing the number of VVPAT counts.
Arguing with the court bench, Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain said that the current number of random VVPAT checks were “all that is needed” and there was no need to extend the physical count. Jain also pointed that there was no question about the reliability of EVMs, VVPATs or the physical counting since everything was “based on expert statistical data” and the EC “on its own, constantly betters its parameters”.
CJI Gogoi reverted to the argument with the fact that it was the judges of the same court that had pushed the idea of VVPATs, showing how the judges had to think for the betterment of Election Commission’s parameters, and not the electoral body itself. And once again, after the apex judiciary body was urging the EC to “do a little more for the sake of purity of the elections” by increasing the number of physical counting. And hence, the SC directed the EC to present an affidavit justifying the body’s resistance for additional counting, and the time and logistics needed for extra counting.