On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition seeking 100 percent matching of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls on May 23.
Dismissing the plea as "nonsense," the bench said that the ill-timed petition would disturb the electoral process, so close to the results.
Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra dismissed plea
A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra deemed the plea, filed by Chennai-based organization 'Tech for All,' "nonsense," adding that a larger bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had already dealt with the matter.
In a brief hearing, the apex court said, "The CJI had dealt with this matter. Why are you taking chance before a two-judge vacation bench."
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'Cannot override CJI's order. This is nonsense,' says SC
"We cannot override the CJI's order. This is nonsense. The petition is taken on board. Dismissed," Mishra said. On May 7, the CJI had dismissed a review plea from 21 Opposition parties, seeking to review its April judgment, which rejected 50% physical verification of EVM-VVPATs.
PIL requested replacing EVMs with optical ballot scan machines
The recent allegations of changing of EVMs had also been cited in the plea. The allegations were, however, dismissed by the Election Commission.
The petition also suggested replacing EVMs with optical ballot scan machines for future elections. An optical ballot scan machine allows voters to manually mark their vote on a paper ballot, which is then scanned electronically for tabulation.
Counting of 50% VVPAT machines could delay election results: ECI
To recall, on April 8, the Election Commission had argued in a hearing that counting of 50% VVPAT machines in every assembly segment/constituency could delay the election results by five days.
The court had directed ECI to increase random matching of VVPAT slips from one to five polling booths per assembly segment/constituency for the satisfaction of political parties and that of the electorate.
Opposition not satisfied with April verdict
However, the Opposition wasn't satisfied with the April 8 verdict. In their plea, they had sought 50% VVPAT verification, which would have to be conducted across 125 polling booths in each constituency.
The verification of VVPAT slips with five EVMs only raised the verification percentage from 0.44% to less than 2%.
SC had also denied Opposition's request for a settlement on 33% physical counting.