SC notice to EC on contempt plea for not employing paper trail

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Election Commission as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for its failure to use Electronic Voting Machines with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail in “true spirit” during the recent state assembly elections as directed by the top court in October 2013.

A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C. Pant issued notice on the contempt plea by the Backward & Minority Community Employees Federation (BAMCEF) contending that the Election Commission has not implemented the October 8, 2013, verdict in its “true spirit”.

Telling the court that the Election Commission “did not bother to implement the judgment by not introducing the VVPAT system in the recently held assembly elections in its true spirit”, the BAMCEF has said that EC has 20,000 VVPAT system which had been procured in 2013 itself when judgment was delivered.

In last two years since then, BAMCEF told the court that Election Commission has not procured any VVPAT system, referring to a RTI reply which says that no order for procuring the VVPAT system was either placed or pending till date.

Alleging that EC was “intentionally avoiding implementing the direction of the court”, the organisation told the court that of the 20,000 VVPAT lying with it, the Election Commission “preferred to use only a very small number of machines of their total stock”.

The top court by its October 8, 2013, verdict had held that the EVMs with VVPAT also called “paper trail” was an indispensable requirement for free and fair elections as it ensures the accuracy of the voting system.

“We are satisfied that the ‘paper trail’ is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The confidence of the voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with the introduction of the paper trail. EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system,” the bench of the then Chief Justice P.Sathasivam (since retired) and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said.

Noting that in general election all over the country, the Election Commission had to handle one million polling booths, the court by its 2013 judgment permitted the EC to introduce the EVMs with VVPAT in gradual stages or geographical-wise in the ensuing general elections.

The 2013 verdict had come on the petition by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.



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