New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Election Commission seeking its response to the plea made by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and 20 other opposition leaders seeking safeguards in the EVMs and to direct counting of at least 50 per cent of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) per Assembly segment.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna after hearing senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi posted the matter for further hearing on March 25.
The Bench in a brief order said “competent authority of the Election Commission of India shall depute a suitable officer to assist the court on the date fixed i.e March 25.”
Besides Chandrababu Naidu, others who filed the petition include Sharad Pawar, K.C. Venugopal, Derek O’Brien, Sharad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra, M.K. Stalin, T.K. Rangarajan and Arvin Kejriwal.
They submitted that (6 out of the 7 national parties and 15 regional parties) across the country electorally representing about 70-75 % of the people of India are filing this petition for a direction to quash the guidelines of the Election Commission which provides that VVPAT shall be conducted only for one randomly selected polling station of a constituency.
They sought a further direction to the Election' Commission for random verification of at least 50% Electronic Voting Machines using the VVPAT per Assembly segment.
The petitioners submitted that the apex court had held that VVPAT is “an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections”. However, the Election Commission guideline being currently followed for conducting VVPAT defeats the entire purpose of introducing VVPAT and makes the same merely ornamental with no actual substance. It is respectfully submitted that the said guideline renders the judgment and directions passed by this otiose.
The petitioners seek to espouse the cause of safeguarding the basic structure of the Constitution by way of ensuring free and fair elections so that fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution are not denied....