Updated April 28th, 2024 at 14:25 IST

EXPLAINED: Supreme Court's Two Key Directives in EVM-VVPAT Case

EVM-VVPAT Case: "Blindly distrusting any aspect of the electoral system could fuel unnecessary scepticism", said the Supreme Court.

Reported by: Digital Desk
EVM-VVPAT Case: Candidates have Option to seek verification of EVM programmes | Image:PTI
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed multiple pleas seeking 100% cross-verification of votes cast through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs). The court underlined that blindly distrusting any aspect of the electoral system could fuel unnecessary scepticism. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta jointly delivered the verdicts, dismissing all petitions related to this issue, including those advocating for a return to ballot papers in elections. 

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) consist of three main components: the ballot unit, the control unit, and the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). Each unit contains microcontrollers with programmed memory from the manufacturer. Presently, VVPATs are deployed in five booths per assembly constituency to enhance transparency in the electoral process.    

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EVM VVPAT Case: Supreme Court's 2 Main Directives

Justice Khanna issued a directive to the Election Commission of India, instructing them to seal and securely store the units responsible for loading symbols onto electronic voting machines (EVMs) in strong rooms for a period of 45 days after the symbols have been loaded.

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The Supreme Court granted permission for engineers from Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) manufacturers to verify the microcontrollers of the machines upon the request of candidates who secured second and third place in the elections. The court stipulated that such requests for microcontroller verification could be made within seven days of result declaration, after payment of fees.

Candidates have  Option to seek Verification of EVM Programmes

Following the SC's verdict, candidates who secure the second and third positions in election results can now request the verification of burnt memory semiconductors in 5% of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) per assembly segment within a Parliamentary constituency. This written request must be submitted within seven days of result declaration. Upon receiving the request, a team of engineers from the EVM manufacturer will carry out the verification process. Candidates need to identify the specific EVMs by providing their serial numbers, and they and their representatives are entitled to be present during the verification. Following verification, the district electoral officer will issue a notification regarding the authenticity of the burnt memory. The candidate making the request is responsible for covering the expenses associated with the verification process, as determined by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

‘Tight Slap on Opposition’

Calling the Supreme Court judgment, ‘tight slap’ on the Congress-led opposition, PM Narendra Modi said that the Congress-led opposition must "apologise" for committing the "sin" of creating distrust against EVMs.

The Prime Minister, who addressed back-to-back election rallies at Araria and Munger Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, also charged the opposition with trying to "steal" reservations meant for OBCs, SCs and STs "for the sake of their favourite vote bank of Muslims".

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"When the Congress, the RJD and other INDI alliance parties were in power, the poor, backwards and Dalits used to be deprived of their votes through booth capture. With the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines, they are no longer able to play their old game. Hence, they committed the sin of creating distrust against EVMs," alleged the Prime Minister in Araria.

"But today, the highest court of the land has delivered a verdict a few hours earlier which comes as a tight slap to these parties", said Modi, referring to the judgment by which pleas seeking cross-verification of votes cast through EVMs with VVPAT have been rejected.

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The prime minister also accused the Congress of having "stolen" reservations meant for the OBCs and transferring the benefits to Muslims in Karnataka, where the party is in power and wanted to replicate the "conspiracy" in the rest of the country, including in Bihar where its ally RJD has "not spoken a word against" the move in the southern state.

"Being an OBC myself, I know the hardships faced by the backward classes", said Modi, adding "In future, they may loot reservations for SCs and STs as well".

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Claiming that the previous government headed by Manmohan Singh had given its "assent" for reservations to Muslims, the prime minister slammed the Congress and its "ecosystem" for "trying to browbeat me, without success". "I will not allow reservations meant for SCs, STs and OBCs to be diverted for vote bank politics. This is Modi's guarantee", he said.
 

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Published April 26th, 2024 at 15:49 IST