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“Supreme Court Upholds Exclusive Use of EVMs, Rejects 100% VVPAT Verification Demands”

Khushbu Kumari Jha
Supreme Court Upholds Exclusive Use of EVMs Rejects 100 percent VVPAT Verification Demands
Supreme Court Upholds Exclusive Use of EVMs Rejects 100 percent VVPAT Verification Demands

Supreme Court’s ruling dismisses calls for 100% VVPAT verification alongside EVMs, affirming sole use of electronic voting machines in elections.

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed petitions demanding 100 percent verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips alongside Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The decision reaffirms the usage of EVMs as the sole medium for voting, with symbol loading units to be securely sealed. The unanimous verdict, delivered by Justice Sanjeev Khanna, emphasized unanimity among judges, stating, “All the petitions are dismissed.”

The rejection extends to calls for conducting elections through traditional ballot papers, as well as demands for VVPAT verification. During proceedings, the Election Commission (EC) highlighted risks associated with distributing VVPAT slips to voters, citing concerns over vote confidentiality and potential misuse outside polling stations.

Prior to the ruling, Justice Khanna clarified the court's focus on seeking specific clarifications rather than reevaluating case merits, following a 40-minute hearing. The decision, reserved since April 24, involved representation from advocates Prashant Bhushan, Gopal Shankaranarayan, and Sanjay Hegde for the petitioners, while Advocate Maninder Singh led the defense for the Election Commission, supported by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The Supreme Court's scrutiny of the electoral process included insights from the Election Commission regarding measures ensuring fair elections through EVMs and VVPAT. Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Dipankar Dutta underscored the necessity of maintaining confidence in the electoral process, cautioning against unwarranted skepticism.

Responding to apprehensions, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar reassured the public of EVM security, citing extensive technical, administrative, and procedural safeguards.

The litigation stemmed from a petition filed by activist Arun Kumar Aggarwal in August 2023, advocating for comprehensive VVPAT verification. In addressing concerns over electoral integrity, the Supreme Court urged petitioners to trust in EVM efficacy and commend the Election Commission's efforts.

VVPAT, an integral part of the electoral process, allows voters to verify their choices by printing a paper slip corresponding to their selection on the EVM. Despite initial skepticism, VVPAT has augmented voter confidence since its introduction during the 2013 Nagaland assembly elections, countering allegations of EVM tampering.

Both EVMs and VVPATs are interconnected, ensuring transparency and accuracy in the voting process. While the verdict solidifies EVM usage, ongoing dialogue underscores the imperative of balancing technological advancement with electoral integrity.