New Delhi: “No institution including the judiciary should insulate itself from suggestions or improvements,” the Supreme Court said on Monday while asking the Election Commission (EC) whether it has any difficulty if the court orders an increase in the number of random checks of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs).
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta said that it is in favor of increasing the random physical verification of more VVPATs in Assembly constituencies or segments in parliamentary constituencies.
The court directed the Commission to file an affidavit on why physical verification of VVPATs should not be extended to more than one polling station per assembly segment.
It asked the poll panel to file the affidavit by Thursday and posted the matter to April 1.
“No institution including the judiciary should insulate itself from suggestions or improvements,” the bench said.
It was hearing a plea filed by 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking random count of VVPAT slips of at least 50 percent EVMs in each Assembly constituency before the declaration of Lok Sabha election results.
At present, only one per assembly segment is audited.
The petition has also challenged the decision of ECI to check VVPATs of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency.
The petitioners have said that this will account only for 0.44% of the votes polled.
This guideline defeats the entire purpose of the VVPAT and makes the same “ornamental” without actual substance, according to the petitioners.
The plea was coordinated by Naidu who was joined by several other leaders in filing the petition.
The other leaders include Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Derek O’Brien, MK Stalin, and Farooq Abdullah.