News18 Daybreak | SC to Hear Plea by 21 Oppn Parties on VVPATs Today and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For

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What to Watch Out For

Supreme Court to hear plea by 21 opposition parties on VVPATs today

Supreme Court on Friday will hear a petition filed by 21 opposition parties on the issue of the Electronic Voting Machines.

The petitioners, which include Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam party, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party, and Sharad Pawar’ss NCP, are demanding random verification of 50% of the EVMs using the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail(VVPAT) in every Assembly segment.

The matter: The Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Sunday had announced that VVPAT will be used in all polling stations along with EVMs in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. According to the EC guideline, however, the “VVPAT paper slips will be used in one randomly selected polling station of an Assembly constituency in case of election to State Legislative Assembly”.

The petitioners are seeking to quash this guideline ahead of the simultaneous Assembly polls in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha.

“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 plea said.

He said she said: The political slugfest over the EVMs is an ongoing one and reached a head earlier this year when a self-proclaimed cyber expert alleged that the BJP had won the last general election by hacking the voting machines.

Several leaders including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi have since voiced their concerns over the issue. In February, Banerjee even went as far as saying that she will ensure that her party organisers will be trained against EVM tampering.

VVPAT explainer: Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines are used during election process to verify that the vote polled by a voter goes to the correct candidate. First introduced during the Lok Sabha Elections 2014 to improve voter confidence and ensuring transparency of voting, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) last year, mandated the 100% use of VVPAT machines for polls and said that 16.5 lakh machines will be used. Read Debayan Roy’s explainer on how the VVPATs will improve voter confidence.

What You May Have Missed

6 Dead, 32 injured as foot overbridge collapses near CST Railway Station in Mumbai

In a shocking incident, at least six people were killed and 32 injured when a foot overbridge near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station in Mumbai collapsed on Thursday evening. The bridge collapse, on the busy Dadabhai Naoroji Road, was the third in less than 18 months in the city. The Railways and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation traded charges over the incident. “The collapsed portion did not connect the station but it was in the BMC area and the constructed and maintained by the civic authorities,” a Central Railways spokesperson said. BMC, which is controlled by the BJP ally in the state – the Shiv Sena, however, put the onus of the blame on the Centre-controlled Railways.

Meanwhile, CM Devendra Fadnavis has announced a probe and said the guilty will be punished. He said that the bridge was audited last year and was found to be structurally sound. Congress leader in Milind Deora, however, held BJP and Shiv Sena responsible for the collapse and demanded that the auditors who cleared the bridge to be booked for murder.

Bridge near bustling Mumbai train station collapses

SC reserves order on Centre’s objections to petitioners citing documents, says RTI Applies in cases of corruption

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Right to Information Act had ushered a revolution on the concept of confidentiality of documents after the government asked it to dismiss the petitions seeking a probe into Rafale fighter jet deal on the grounds that national security supersedes everything. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, pointed out that in cases of corruption and human rights' violation, the RTI Act may apply even for sensitive information in sensitive organisations. "According to you, these documents affect national security and court should not interfere... we have to consider it under the RTI act," he said. The Supreme Court has reserved its order on whether it would examine the documents that the government says were stolen from the ministry of defence and should not be presented in court.

News18 Election Tracker: TDP first list, Congress' Tom Vadakkan and TMC's Arjun Singh defects to BJP

TDP releases first list of candidates for Andhra Pradesh Assembly election

The ruling Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday night released its first list of 126 candidates for the April 11 assembly election. CM Chandrababu Naidu, who announced the list in a last-might press conference, called it “Mission 150 plus” as the party aims to win atleast 150 of the 175 seats in the assembly. The names of Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh also figured in the list. While Lokesh will contest from the Mangalagiri constituency of Amravati, with a predominant backward class population, Naidu will contest from his native Chittoor district in Kuppam for the seventh time.

Congress's Tom Vadakkan joins BJP, says was hurt when party 'questioned' armed forces

In a huge setback to the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, its spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, once a key aide of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, joined the BJP on Thursday attacking his former party for its stand on Balakot air strikes. The 61-year-old senior leader, who joined the saffron party on Thursday in the presence of BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, said he was “deeply hurt” after the Congress “questioned” the integrity of the armed forces. “If a party is working against national interest, then there is no other option but to leave it," he said.

TMC strongman Arjun Singh joins BJP after Mamata denies LS Ticket

Trinamool Congress (TMC) strongman and Bhatpara MLA Arjun Singh joined the BJP in the presence of senior leaders, including Kailash Vijayvargiya, in New Delhi on Thursday. Citing his disappointment over CM Mamata Banerjee’s stand on the Balakot air strikes he said, “When the entire country was speaking in one voice against Pakistan, she was questioning the intention of the Prime Minister. It was very unfortunate.” The Bhatpara MLA, who is popular in all seven constituents of Barrackpore, Singh had been denied the Barrackpore ticket by the TMC chief even though he had openly demanded for it.

TMC MLA Arjun Singh joins BJP in New Delhi (News18)

News18 Election Lab: How BJP saffronised Northeast one state at a time in pursuit of 'Congress-Mukt Bharat'

The fact that the BJP is hoping to make electoral gains through it's east policy in the northeast for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is known to all, as it is expected to face major losses in the heartland states, which it had swept in 2014. The main reason for such a move is that the party is expected to face major losses in the heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the recent Assembly elections, which it had swept in 2014. Read Swati Dey’s report to find out more.

Shooting reported at Mosque in New Zealand, several feared dead; close shave for Bangladesh cricket team

Armed police in New Zealand swarmed central Christchurch Friday amid reports of a shooting at a mosque in the South Island city. "Police are currently responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch," the police said in a statement. Local media reported multiple casualties at one mosque and said another had been evacuated. A Bangladeshi journalist Mohammad Islam, in a tweet even reported that the entire Bangladesh cricket team were among those who escaped from the mosque near Hagley park, where the shooting took place."Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval," he wrote. Follow the live updates here.

On Reel

Assembly polls will be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha Elections in Andhra Pradesh, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday at a press conference in New Delhi. Here is what past poll data reveals about Andhra Pradesh voting trends.

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