VVPAT issue: SC asks Oppn parties to file reply on EC affidavit by April 8

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked petitioners seeking direction that 50 percent EVM results should be matched and cross-checked with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) before the declaration of results in the upcoming General Elections, to file response over the Election Commission’s affidavit in connection the case.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, also comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta directed the 21 opposition parties (petitioners) to file a rejoinder to the affidavit of the poll panel before April 8.

On Friday, the Election Commission of India in an affidavit told the court that there is no need to increase VVPAT count to match it with EVM. It had said that the existing system is full-proof and more VVPAT count means 6 days delay in the counting of votes in Lok Sabha election.

The court had directed the Commission to file an affidavit on why physical verification of VVPATs should not be extended to more than one polling station per Assembly segment.

The court is hearing a plea filed by 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking a random count of VVPAT slips of at least 50 percent EVMs in each Assembly constituency before the declaration of Lok Sabha election results.

The petition has challenged the decision of the Commission to check VVPATs of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners have said that this will account only for 0.44 percent of the votes polled.