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SC seeks response from EC on tallying of VVPAT

New Delhi

07-January-2019

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Election Commission (EC) on increasing the tallying of count and cross-verify the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) with EVMs from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent for this year's general elections.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul issued the notice while hearing a PIL.

The PIL petitioners have sought direction to the EC to count and cross-verify the VVPAT in at least 30 per cent randomly chosen polling stations within each Assembly segment/constituency.

The PIL petitioners have contended that "the larger principles of structural due process, transparency, examinability, voter confidence and voter satisfaction" require the Commission to conduct random cross-verification of EVM counts with VVPAT counts in order to "not only detect any technological mischief or malprogramming of EVMs, but also deter such mischief".

PIL petitioners M.G. Devasahayam and Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev from Tamil Nadu, and Kalarickal Pranchu Fabian from Delhi have contended that such cross-verification and counting of VVPAT slips is essential in the interests of transparency and public scrutiny of the electoral process.

The PIL has described as "manifestly arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and, inter alia, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, the Election Commission's decision to confine such a cross-verification exercise to a statistically insignificant number of approximately only one polling station in each constituency, regardless of the number of polling stations in such a constituency".

Devasahayam is a retired IAS and a former Indian Army officer, Kalarickal Pranchu Fabian is a former Indian Foreign Service Officer, who had retired as India's Ambassador to Italy and Permanent Representative to the UN in Rome, and Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev is a retired Banker and was the General Secretary of All India Bank Officers Confederation. - IANS