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No 50% VVPAT-EVM Verification as SC Junks Review Petition by 21 Oppn Parties in Under a Minute

The review plea wanted VVPAT verification to be hiked to 50 per cent of EVMs per assembly segment in a parliamentary constituency.


Updated:May 8, 2019, 12:14 AM IST

New Delhi: In a hearing that lasted less than a minute, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a review petition by 21 opposition parties to increase the random matching of paper trail (VVPAT) with EVMs for the ongoing general elections.

“We are not inclined to modify our order,” the court said.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for petitioners, said, “We bow down to the court order which has dismissed our petition. This is an all-India political campaign to make the electorate aware of the issue at hand... The EC has got no guidelines in case either of the machines go bad.”

On April 8, the top court had directed the Election Commission to increase voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) from one EVM to five randomly selected EVMs per assembly segment under a parliamentary constituency.

Opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, had told the court that "increase from 1 to 5 is not a reasonable number and does not lead to satisfaction desired by this court", and that the court should review its order. The review plea wanted verification to be hiked to 50 per cent of EVMs per assembly segment.

The court's earlier order was seen as a major setback for the opposition parties as the court had merely increased the quantum of EVM verification using paper trail by 1.99 per cent, that is, out of total 10.35 lakh EVMs, only 20,625 will be used in counting to verify results.

As per apex court's direction, the VVPAT slips of five EVMs in every place will be subjected to physical counting. The court noted that increasing the VVPAT would neither require additional manpower nor delay the results of the Lok Sabha elections as feared by the Election Commission.

During the earlier hearing, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll panel several question regarding the information mentioned on the slips and the process in place to authenticate the genuineness of these paper slips.

The court had noted that the EC had put a query before the Indian Statistical Institute regarding a reasonable sample size to verify the EVMs. The institute had responded that a sample of 479 EVMs would generate 99.99 per cent accuracy in results.

The opposition parties had demanded raising the number of EVM machines to 5.17 lakh.

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