23 Opposition parties move court on EVMs and VVPAT

Paper trail crucial, say petitioners; SC hearing today

In a major show of pre-poll strength, 23 Opposition parties moved the Supreme Court on Thursday, demanding the random verification of at least 50% Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) using Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in every Assembly segment or constituency.

They further sought to quash an Election Commission guideline that Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) should be conducted “only for VVPAT paper slips of one randomly selected polling station of an Assembly constituency in case of election to State Legislative Assembly and each Assembly segment in case of election to the House of the People.”

The petition, led by presidents and leaders of 23 different national and regional political parties — six out of the seven national parties, and 17 regional parties — said they electorally represent about 70%-75% of the people of India.

The apex court has listed the case for urgent hearing on March 15.

The petition has been filed in the names of Andhra Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar, Congress’ K.C. Venugopal, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M.K. Stalin, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party president Arvind Kejriwal, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha, among others.

The petition said free and fair elections was part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. It quoted the apex court’s judgment in the Dr. Subramanian Swamy case in 2013, which held that the paper trail for EVMs was an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections, thereby making VVPAT inherent in and intrinsic to the very basic structure.

The ECI guideline hits at the basic structure of the Constitution by making VVPAT “completely ineffective and merely ornamental in nature,” the petition said.

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