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“Poll results may be delayed a day by VVPAT verification”

Posted in S. Asia

Published on May 11, 2019 with No Comments

The Lok Sabha election results may be delayed a day, to May 24, due to the increased number of VVPAT verifications, the Election Commission of India has said.

“As per the previous plan, the results of the elections are scheduled to be declared on May 23. But the results may be delayed and the final results may be declared to May 24 due to increased number of VVPAT verifications,” the official has been quoted by media in India.

Explaining the reason behind the delay, the EC official said an increase in the number of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) verification from one to five polling booths in each Assembly segment of a Parliamentary constituency, as directed by the apex court on April 8, could delay the counting by more than five-six hours and the final tally is likely to be clear on May 24.

In a setback to the Opposition, the Supreme Court has declined to increase the count for verification of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.  “We are not inclined to modify our order,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told senior advocates A M Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, who were appearing for the petitioners led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Singhvi told the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, that random matching of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) should be increased to at least 25 per cent as against the present 2 per cent.

Sibal said the poll panel had earlier “misled the court” on this aspect.

To this, the CJI said, “This is a review petition. We are not obliged to hear you in an open court.”  During the hearing, opposition leaders, including Naidu, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and CPI’s MP D Raja were present in the courtroom.These leaders had sought a review of the court’s order, saying the “increase from one to five is not a reasonable number and does not lead to satisfaction desired by this court”. “The petitioners submit that the aforesaid increase to a mere 2 per cent is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order,” they said. “Therefore, even though the petitioners have succeeded on merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved,” the plea had said.

Referring to earlier observations of the apex court, it said the 2 per cent increase in random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs would not achieve the purpose of raising “public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process”. 

 

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