Supreme Court to Review Comprehensive Counting of VVPAT Slips in Upcoming Elections

Election Commission

New Delhi: In a significant move that could impact the transparency and trust in India’s electoral process, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Election Commission and the Central Government regarding a petition that seeks a full count of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips alongside Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the Lok Sabha election results.

The petition, presented by social activist Arun Kumar Aggarwal, challenges the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected EVMs through VVPAT slips per constituency. Aggarwal’s legal team argued before a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, emphasizing the need for a more robust verification process to ensure electoral integrity.

The government has reportedly invested around Rs 5,000 crore in approximately 24 lakh VVPAT machines. However, as it stands, only about 20,000 VVPAT slips are subject to verification, raising questions about the utilization of these resources.

The Congress party has welcomed the court’s notice as a ‘crucial first step’ towards electoral reform. Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh, in a statement, underscored the urgency of resolving this issue before the commencement of the Lok Sabha elections. He highlighted concerns over the Election Commission’s reluctance to engage with the ‘India’ alliance, which has been advocating for 100% VVPAT verification to bolster public confidence in the EVMs.

The VVPAT system serves as an independent verification mechanism that allows voters to confirm their votes are correctly cast. When a vote is registered on an EVM, the VVPAT generates a paper slip with the candidate’s details, which the voter can view before it is securely stored for potential recounting.

Election Commission

The Supreme Court has scheduled the next hearing on this pivotal matter for May 17, which could lead to a landmark decision affecting the future conduct of elections in India.