Supreme Court issues notice on plea seeking complete count of VVPAT slips in elections

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a petition seeking complete count of Voter-verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in elections as opposed to the current practice of verification of only five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) through VVPAT paper slips.

The Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta issued notice on the petition filed by lawyer and activist Arun Kumar Agrawal, which further challenged the guidelines of the Election Commission (EC) mandating sequential verification (one after the other) of VVPATs, causing undue delay. 

The petition contended that if simultaneous verification was done and more number of officers were deployed for counting in each Assembly constituency, then complete VVPAT verification can be done in a matter of 5-6 hours. 

The petition further argued that while the government has spent nearly Rs 5000 crore on purchase of nearly 24 lakh VVPATs, presently VVPAT slips of only approximately 20,000 VVPATs was verified. 

Given that many questions were being raised by experts with regard to VVPATs and EVMs and the fact that large number of discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT vote count have been reported in the past, it was imperative that all VVPATs slips were counted and the voter was given an opportunity to properly verify that his vote as cast in the ballot was also counted by allowing him to physically drop his/her VVPAT slip on the ballot box. 

The petition has been tagged with the pending EVM VVPAT matters.

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