The Bombay High Court Tuesday refused to interfere with the election process as it disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking implementation of the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system along with electronic voting machines (EVM). The HC observed that it was not possible for the Election Commission of Indian (ECI) to implement the system for the October 15 Assembly elections.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha, however, said the ECI should not take indefinite time to implement the same.
According to the PIL, the ECI should have implemented the system in all 288 Assembly constituencies for verification of the votes cast as EVMs were not effective. “When voters know the votes have gone to the right candidates, the purpose of fair election is achieved,” said the PIL. The petitioners relied on a 2012 Supreme Court order asking for implementation of the VVPAT system in a phased manner with a direction to the Centre to provide required financial assistance for the procurement of VVPAT units. The SC was told by the ECI that attaching VVPAT units with all EVMs would require Rs 1,690 crore.
The petitioners, on the other hand, sought that either the election be rescheduled or voters be asked to cast votes in ballot boxes.
“Maharashtra has begun the implementation of VVPATs in the state and subject to the availability of funds and appropriate directions the same can be carried out only in phases. Thus, owing to the practical and financial impediments a complete installation of VVPATs in all EVMs is not plausible at this stage,” the ECI said in its affidavit Tuesday.
The HC observed the petitioners’ grievance stood on ground of compliance of the order of the SC, which did not fix any time limit for the implementation. Gorakhnath Maurya, a businessman and also secretary of Janhit Party, an unregistered political party, and journalist Manibhushan D’Mello had jointly filed the PIL.