The EC said the audit system has the approval of the Indian Statistical Institute.
New Delhi: In a significant order ahead of the first phase of the polls on April 11, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission of India (EC) to increase the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) physical verification from one to five EVMs in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna directed the EC to continue with the existing procedure of choosing the EVM at random for the purposes of physical verification of VVPAT.
The bench passed this order on a batch of petitions filed by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and 20 other political leaders seeking that the EC should be directed to conduct 50 per cent verification.
They said by employing more staff, the delay in the counting process could be reduced and such physical verification of VVPAT would enhance ‘purity and integrity’ in elections.
The court said the objective behind the direction to increase the EVMs for verification of VVPAT from one to five was to ensure a higher degree of accuracy to enhance the satisfaction in free and fair elections of not just parties but of the people of the country. It clarified that the efficacy of the system as it presently exists or the credibility of the EVM is not doubted.
On behalf of the EC, it was argued that there is nothing to indicate any bottlenecks in the audit system as is employed today, that the petitioners were only motivated by their assumptions and that an increase in the quantum of manual verification would in fact also heighten the risk of mistakes. The EC said the audit system has the approval of the Indian Statistical Institute.
The bench accepted the submissions of the EC that more VVPAT verification would create issues of infrastructure, considering that separate space is needed to be dedicated for the purpose, noting that the VVPAT sample survey as currently conducted is already more than the recommended number.