THE SUPREME Court on Friday issued notice to the Election Commission (EC) on a plea by leaders from 21 political parties who wanted the poll body to randomly verify at least 50 per cent Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) using their Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in the upcoming elections.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna directed that the notice be served on the EC through its secretary.
It also asked the “competent authority of the Election Commission of India” to “depute a suitable officer to assist the court on the date fixed”.
The matter will now be heard on March 25.
Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted that the demand for random verification in at least 50 per cent EVMs with VVPAT was in the interest of free and fair elections, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
The petitioners include Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, Sharad Chandra Pawar of the NCP, Congress leader K C Venugopal, TMC leader Derek O’Brien, Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra of the BSP, DMK leader M K Stalin, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and National Congress leader Farooq Abdullah.
The plea also wants the court to quash the EC guideline that provides that the verification will be conducted only for VVPAT paper slips of one randomly selected polling station of an Assembly constituency in case of election to Assembly and each Assembly segment in case of election to the Lok Sabha.
A “50% randomised verification in each assembly constituency / assembly segment is a reasonable sample size to both (a) allay the fears of the general public with regard to EVM tampering and; (b) be a statistically significant sample size to ensure that EVMs are working properly,” the petition said.