Supreme Court Decision Rejected for Tallying VVPATs with EVMs


A review petition has been filed challenging the recent Supreme Court decision to dismiss a plea advocating for the tallying of every Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slip with votes cast through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Arun Kumar Agarwal, the petitioner, asserts that the judgment contains apparent mistakes and errors.

"It is not correct to state that the result will be unreasonably delayed or the manpower required will be double... Existing CCTV surveillance of counting halls would ensure that manipulation and mischief do not occur in VVPAT slip counting," the review petition states.

On April 26, the Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta dismissed the plea for tallying all VVPATs and EVM votes, also rejecting a suggestion to revert to a paper ballot-based system.

The Court emphasized the need to foster a culture of trust and collaboration to strengthen democracy. However, it directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) and other authorities to take steps to enhance confidence in EVMs. These measures include sealing symbol loading units (SLUs) for 45 days after completion of the loading process, providing candidates with the option to be present during verification, and checking burnt memory in the micro-controller unit by a team of engineers.

While dismissing the plea, the Court stressed the importance of nurturing trust in the electoral process. Agarwal's petition challenges this decision, arguing for increased transparency through VVPAT-EVM tallying.

The review petition's contention underscores the ongoing debate surrounding electoral integrity and the mechanisms to ensure it. With the foundational importance of free and fair elections in a democratic society, such legal challenges and debates play a crucial role in shaping electoral practices and regulations.

The Supreme Court's decision and the subsequent review petition highlight the complexities inherent in balancing technological advancements with the fundamental principles of democracy. 

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT University