New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea filed by a group of technocrats seeking a direction to the Election Commission that all votes on Electronic Voting Machines be verified with paper slips. A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah did not find any merit in the petition. “We dismiss the petition,” Justice Mishra said.
“We would not entertain this kind of plea over and over again. We cannot come in the way of people electing their representatives,” Justice Mishra said while dismissing the petition. Coming down heavily on the petitioners, he termed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) as “nuisance.”
Apart from their demand to increase VVPAT verification to 100 per cent, the petitioners also demanded replacement of EVMs with optical ballot scan machines for future elections.
As technocrats, we submit that in the long term the EVM should be replaced by optical ballot scan machine which upholds the tangible secret ballot system, verifiable even by a common man coupled with cost-effectiveness,” the petition said. Optical scan voting machine allows a voter to manually mark their vote on a paper ballot which is scanned for electronic tabulation.
The Bench also refused to entertain a plea challenging the appointment of two retired bureaucrats as special observers and central police observers in West Bengal for Lok Sabha polls. It declined the prayer since the polling is already over. On May 7, 21 Opposition parties had urged the Election Commission to match at least 50 per cent electronic voting machines with paper slips.
Their petition was rejected by the top court, which did not agree to even a 25% count. Current provisions say five randomly-selected EVMs will be verified in each assembly segment with the paper slips. Advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeted that “when a former CEC raises questions about the unusual movement of EVMs, you know we should be worried. That is why it is important to count the VVPAT paper slips as well.”