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SC declines increase in verification of VVPAT slips with EVMs

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New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) In a set back to the Opposition, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to increase the count for the verification of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said “we are not willing to modify our order”.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Opposition leaders, argued that the demand of the leaders was viable, as it was reasonable and meaningful.

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Singhvi told the court that it was “being misled”.

The court declined to consider Singhvi’s argument, saying: “We are not inclined to modify our earlier order.”

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh , Communist Party of India MP D. Raja and National Conference chairman Farooq Abdullah, attended Tuesday’s proceedings in the apex court.

On April 8, the top court had directed the Election Commission to increase the VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths in each Assembly segment of the Parliamentary constituency.

Last week, it agreed to hear a review plea by the 21 Opposition leaders seeking to increase the verification of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing polls.

The court will hear the matter next week.

The Opposition leaders led by Naidu told the court that “increase from one to five is not a reasonable number and does not lead to satisfaction desired by this court”, and that it should review the order.

The court’s earlier order was seen as a major setback for the Opposition parties as it has merely increased the quantum of EVM verification using paper trail by 1.99 per cent, that is, out of total 10.35 lakh EVMs, only 20,625 will be used in counting to verify results.

The Supreme Court had increased voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) from one EVM per Assembly segment to five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Earlier, increasing the poll booths for verification, the court said this was being done to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy and satisfaction in the election process.

As per apex court’s direction, the VVPAT slips of five EVMs in every place will be subjected to physical counting. It noted that increasing the VVPAT would neither require additional manpower nor delay the results of the Lok Sabha elections.

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