Supreme Court directs Election Commission to respond on VVPAT paper trail decision

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday sought clarification from the Election Commission of India (ECI) as to why the poll panel was not in favour of increasing the number of samples in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) from more than one randomly selected polling booth per assembly segment.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta directed ECI to file an affidavit by March 28 explaining the rationale behind the decision.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who seek a direction to the ECI to increase the VVPAT sample survey by cross-checking at least 50 percent voting machines in each assembly seat.

Saying that it was a matter of “satisfaction”, rather than ‘casting aspersions” on ECI, the bench indicated that it was in favour of increasing the VVPAT sample survey if it was feasible.

“No institution, including the courts, can consider itself to be over and above suggestions, or that it is beyond the scope of improvement,” said the apex court.

The ECI’s decision to cross-check only one VVPAT per assembly segment would account for merely 0.44 percent of the votes polled, making the entire exercise merely “ornamental” without any actual substance.

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