The Supreme Court on Monday asked petitioner NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, to serve the Election Commission of India with a copy of their petition seeking a direction to cross-verify the vote count in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with votes separately “recorded as cast” in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).
A Bench led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna however made a preliminary oral remark that the petitioner, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, may be over-suspicious”. The court agreed to list the case after three weeks.
The present petition said the apex court had directed in its reported judgment of 2013 in the Subramanian Swamy v. Election Commission of India case that the election process should “have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters”. The court had held that “paper trail” was an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections” and directed the ECI to introduce VVPAT in EVMs.
“It is the satisfaction and verification of the voter that is at the heart of electoral democracy and not just that of the ECI, domain experts, political parties, or candidates. ‘Voter verifiable’ means that each voter must be able to verify: firstly, that their vote has been ‘recorded as cast’; and, secondly, that their vote has been ‘counted as recorded’,” the petition noted.
Though the requirement of the voter verifying that her vote has been ‘recorded as cast’ is somewhat met when the VVPAT slip is displayed for about seven seconds after pressing of the button on the EVM through a transparent window, there is a “complete vacuum in law as the ECI has provided no procedure for the voter to verify that her vote has been ‘counted as recorded’ which is an indispensable part of voter verifiability”, the petition contended.