‘Let counting go on’: SC on plea for VVPAT verification at more polling stations

‘Let counting go on’: SC on plea for VVPAT verification at more polling stations

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to grant urgent listing of a plea seeking direction to increase randomly selected polling stations for the purpose of mandatory verification of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips from 5 to 25 in each Assembly constituency.

The vote counting for Assembly elections held in five states is scheduled on March 10.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana told the petitioner’s counsel, the court is not willing to issue directions at the last minute as the counting of votes for recently-held Assembly polls is the day after Wednesday.

“Let counting go on as per established practice, procedures and law,” noted the bench. also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, as it heard a plea by social activist Rakesh Kumar seeking urgent listing of the petition.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Election Commission, submitted before the bench that the plea is not maintainable, as officials are already following the 2019 judgment of the top court in connection with VVPAT verification.

The bench said what could it do at the last minute and the EC is already following the top court judgment. It further added that the petition could be considered in the regular course only.

The plea said when the candidates or their agents become aware of the outcome of the election during the last round of counting reports, they do not wait for the counting of VVPAT paper slips of the 5 randomly selected polling stations as per the guidelines biased by this court in Chandrababu Naidu case (2019). “Therefore, the counting must be done prior to the vote counting for ensuring complete sanctity of the vote counting process. This will also ensure that if there is any discrepancy between the counting in EVM and the VVPATs, the counting of the VVPAT slips shall prevail as per the guidelines laid down,” it added.

The plea sought strict compliance with the top court direction in N. Chandrababu Naidu case, where guidelines were issued for mandatory verification of VVPAT slips, out of five randomly selected polling stations, after completing the final round of counting votes recorded in EVMs.

Earlier, during the day the top court had agreed to hear the plea after senior advocate Meenakshi Arora mentioned it before a bench headed by the Chief Justice.

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