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Week After it Closed All Cases on EVMs, Supreme Court to Hear a PIL All Over Again

Petitioner-advocate Manohar Lal Sharma got a hearing from the bench after pointing out that he was given two weeks on August 4 to counter the stand taken by the ECI.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:August 17, 2017, 10:34 AM IST
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Week After it Closed All Cases on EVMs, Supreme Court to Hear a PIL All Over Again
File photo of the Supreme Court.
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New Delhi: A week after it closed a total of four PILs on EVMs in one go, the Supreme Court on Thursday will hear one of these petitions all over again. This, after the PIL petitioner, who is an advocate himself, complained that he was not even aware of his petition being listed for hearing on August 9 when it got disposed.

Petitioner-advocate Manohar Lal Sharma got a hearing from the bench, headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, after pointing out that he was given two weeks on August 4 to counter the stand taken by the Election Commission of India on the credibility and reliability of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

"So my petition could not have been listed again on August 9 when it was wrapped up without even hearing me," he told the CJI, who agreed to list his case once again on Thursday.

Sharma further told the bench that even though the status of his PIL was shown as 'disposed of' on the Court website, there was no formal order available as to on what grounds the bench had decided to close his case on EVMs.

Sharma has claimed that EVMs could be tampered with and therefore, the Court should order an inquiry into cases where substantial facts were available regarding tinkering with the machines. EC has opposed his petition, saying EVMs are completely tamper-proof machines, and the ones in India are in fact more reliable than the machines in foreign countries

CNN-News 18 had earlier reported on how three petitions challenging the credibility of EVMs were wrapped up by the Supreme Court last week, leaving lawyers befuddled.

On August 9, a three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, took up as many as four such petitions and the status of all the cases later showed as 'disposed of' on the Court’s website.

But lawyers in two of these cases later told CNN-News18 that they had no idea that their cases were being heard on that day and what orders were passed to dispose them off subsequently.

Of the four cases, the first was a plea confined to conducting Assembly polls in Gujarat using EVMs with VVPAT (paper trail) machines.

The other three petitions included PILs filed separately by ML Sharma, Ataur Rahman and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

These three petitions were listed last on August 4, after which the court adjourned them for two weeks. But these cases got listed again four days later.

Initially, the hearing of these cases was deferred to August 10 but the cases were taken up at 3.30 on August 9 itself and all matters were disposed of.

"We got back to our chambers knowing our cases had been adjourned for the next day. But suddenly, I started getting calls from other lawyers and media personnel asking if our petition had been disposed of," said a lawyer, who did not wish to be named.

Another lawyer told CNN-News18 that he had left for Mumbai to undergo a therapy after his PIL was adjourned for two weeks on August 4.

"When we asked around, we were told that some BSP lawyer mentioned the case on August 9 at 3.30pm and the bench disposed of all the four cases by a common order. But five days on, even the order has been not released," one of the lawyers had complained on Monday.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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