EVM case | Justice Datta sees bid to undermine achievements of the nation

The Supreme Court judge gave his separate opinion upholding the Electronic Voting Machine system

Updated - April 27, 2024 12:08 pm IST

Published - April 27, 2024 04:52 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Supreme Court judge, Justice Dipankar Datta, gave his separate opinion upholding the Electronic Voting Machine system

Supreme Court judge, Justice Dipankar Datta, gave his separate opinion upholding the Electronic Voting Machine system | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Supreme Court judge, Justice Dipankar Datta, in his separate opinion upholding the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) system, said constitutional courts should “nip in the bud” a “fast-developing” trend among “certain vested groups” to undermine the achievements of the nation earned through the hard work and dedication of its sincere workforce.

“There seems to be a concerted effort to discredit, diminish, and weaken the progress of this great nation on every possible frontier. Any such effort, or rather attempt, has to be nipped in the bud. No constitutional court, far less this court, would allow such attempt to succeed as long as it [the court] has a say in the matter,” Justice Datta, who constituted the two-judge Bench with Justice Khanna, observed on Friday.

The judge’s comments were triggered by submissions made in court by a petitioner, Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, to revert to the paper ballot system of polling. He found the suggestion “inexplicable”.

“Question of reverting to the paper ballot system, on facts and in the circumstance, does not and cannot arise. It is only improvements in the EVMs or even a better system that people would look forward to in the ensuing years,” Justice Datta said.

SC thumbs-up for EVMs, declines plea to revive paper ballot

Arbitrary power

The judge noted that neither the Election Commission nor any other authority claim to possess arbitrary power over the interests of an individual voter and seek cover from the sunlight of judicial scrutiny if, indeed, a valid cause is set up for interference.

“After all, ‘let right be done’ is also the motto of our nation like any other civilised state. That the sanctity of the electoral process has to be secured at any cost has never been in doubt,” Justice Datta noted.

The judge proceeded to bolster the resolve of the EC against periodical challenges to electoral processes, “which gain momentum particularly when General Elections are imminent”.

He said such challenges require the EC to raise robust, valid and effective defence to spurn them. He cautioned the EC that, otherwise, an adverse judgment by a court would undermine its authority and prestige, bringing disrepute to the top polling body.

Justice Datta said conducting elections in India was a humongous task. It presented a novel challenge, unique in the entire world.

“India is home to more than 140 crore people and there are 97 crore eligible voters for the 2024 General Elections, which is more than 10% of the world population. These voters represent the largest electorate in the world… The 2024 General Elections, proposed to be conducted in seven phases and presently under way, entail an estimated expenditure of around ₹1 lakh crore,” the judge pointed out.

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