BREAKING: Supreme Court rejects pleas seeking 100% verification of EVM VVPAT

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Justice Datta, in his separate but concurring judgment has opined that blind distrust could lead to unwarranted suspicions

The Supreme Court of India today has rejected all the pleas filed before it seeking 100% verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

"We have gone into the technical aspects and all propositions made by the petitioners have been rejected", a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta has said in two separate but concurring judgments.

Two days back, the Supreme Court had said that it could not control elections or act as a controlling authority for the Election Commission, another constitutional body.

Hearing a plea for raising VVPAT counts to 100 %, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta had said that consequences are provided under the law against anyone who does any misdeed and the court cannot issue any mandamus on the basis of mere suspicion.

Last year, Court had sought a reply from the poll panel on the petition filed by 'Association for Democratic Reforms' seeking to cross verify the count in EVMs with votes that have been verifiably ‘recorded as cast’ by the voters themselves, through the VVPATs.

The plea also sought a direction to declare as unconstitutional the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and the practice and procedure of ECI to the extent that they violate the fundamental right of the voters to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been ‘recorded as cast’ and ‘counted as recorded'.

The plea claimed that during the 2019 General Elections, there were EC acknowledged instances, where there was variance in the results captured in the EVMs and that of the VVPATs. 

On April 1, 2024, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on another writ petition demanding mandatory cross-verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

The petition, filed by lawyer and activist Arun Kumar Agrawal, sought a direction to ensure that all VVPAT slips are counted alongside the votes cast electronically. The plea filed through advocate Neha Rathi sought a direction for a comprehensive count of VVPAT slips, challenging the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected EVMs through VVPAT paper slips.

Case Title: Arun Kumar Agrawal vs. Election Commission of India