Supreme Court Seeks Clarification from Election Commission on EVM Functioning; Key Aspects Under Scrutiny

Supreme Court Seeks Clarification from Election Commission on EVM Functioning; Key Aspects Under Scrutiny

Supreme Court Seeks Clarification from Election Commission on EVM Functioning; Key Aspects Under Scrutiny

In a significant development, the Supreme Court has sought clarification from the Election Commission (EC) regarding certain aspects of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and summoned a senior poll panel official for elucidation. This move comes amid a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, which has reserved its verdict on the aforementioned pleas, expressed the need for clarity on specific issues following some confusion arising from the EC’s ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQs) on EVMs.

The court, represented by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the EC, outlined four key clarifications it required:

1. Microcontroller Installation: The court sought clarification on the installation of microcontrollers, whether they are fitted in the control unit (CU) or the VVPAT, as there was discrepancy noted in the FAQs.

2. Microcontroller Programmability: It sought confirmation on whether the microcontrollers are one-time programmable, considering different types exist, and the EC’s stance that they are one-time programmable.

3. Symbol Loading Units: The court inquired about the number of symbol loading units available with the EC, seeking clarity on this aspect.

4. Storage Period of EVMs: There was a discrepancy regarding the storage duration of EVMs, with the court questioning whether it is 30 days or 45 days, especially in the context of the limitation period for filing election petitions.

Moreover, the court emphasized the sealing and securing of EVMs, stressing that all three components – ballot unit, control unit, and VVPAT – should be sealed together, seeking clarification on this matter from the EC.

While some petitioners advocated for the disclosure of the source code of EVMs for transparency, the court ruled against it, citing the potential misuse of the source code.

The VVPAT, an independent vote verification system, enables electors to verify whether their votes have been correctly cast, adding an additional layer of transparency to the electoral process.

Previously, on April 18, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas, underscoring the significance of voter satisfaction and trust in the electoral system. The court advised petitioners against doubting the efficacy of EVMs, urging them to appreciate the Election Commission’s efforts in conducting fair elections.

NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ (ADR), one of the petitioners, sought the reversal of the EC’s 2017 decision to replace the transparent glass on VVPAT machines with an opaque one, raising concerns about voter visibility.

The top court, on April 16, deprecated criticism of EVMs and calls for reverting to ballot papers, highlighting the monumental nature of the electoral process in India and cautioning against undermining the system.

#SupremeCourt #ElectionCommission #EVMs #VVPAT #Transparency #ElectoralProcess #Democracy #VoterTrust #JudicialScrutiny

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