New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to file its replies by May 8 on petitions filed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and a Samajwadi party MLA challenging voting through electronic voting machine without addition of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).
A bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Abdul Nazeer issued notice after hearing senior counsel and former finance minister P. Chidambaram appearing for BSP and SP MLA. The court also permitted Congress, Trinamul Congress and other parties to intervene after senior counsel Kapil Sibal informed that the Congress was also intervening in the matter.
At the outset Mr Chidambaram said, “We only want a direction to the EC to comply with a 2013 Supreme Court directive which made it mandatory for use of VVPAT in EVMs. EVMs remain highly vulnerable and susceptible to hacking. What one man can invent, another man can hack.”
Explaining the VVPAT, Mr Chidambaram said “if the EVM is fixed to a VVPAT machine, the voter can see whether the symbol the voter presses is the symbol the EVM registers in the system. Verification of the vote is an indispensable part of voting. Only a paper trail can restore the confidence of the people. In the absence of VVPAT, if the voter presses a button on the EVM, he will not know what the machine has recorded.”
He read out the 2013 Supreme Court judgment which had directed the EC to introduce in a phased manner the paper trail in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, saying “it is an indispensable requirement of free, fair and transparent” polls which will restore confidence of the voters. The court had asked the Centre to provide funds to EC for introduction of VVPAT system with the EVMs.