Supreme Court Upholds India’s Electronic Voting System, Dismisses Calls for Complete VVPAT Verification

Supreme Court Upholds India’s Electronic Voting System, Dismisses Calls for Complete VVPAT Verification

Supreme Court Upholds India’s Electronic Voting System, Dismisses Calls for Complete VVPAT Verification

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of India has rejected pleas seeking a complete cross-verification of votes cast using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips. The court maintained that “blindly distrusting” any aspect of the electoral system can breed “unwarranted scepticism” and undermine public trust in the democratic process.

The two-judge bench, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, delivered a balanced and pragmatic verdict, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a “balanced perspective” when evaluating the country’s electoral institutions. The court dismissed all the petitions, including those seeking a return to the use of ballot papers in elections.

Notably, the court issued two key directives to the Election Commission of India (ECI). Firstly, the ECI was ordered to seal and store the units used to load symbols onto EVMs for 45 days after the symbols have been loaded, in order to strengthen the security measures surrounding the voting process. Secondly, the court ruled that if an EVM is found to have been tampered with during the verification process, the fees paid by the candidates will be refunded.

The petitions had claimed that the polling devices can be manipulated to alter election results, a concern that the court addressed by stating that “democracy is all about striving to build harmony and trust between all institutions.” The bench maintained that “blindly distrusting any aspect of the system can breed unwarranted scepticism” and undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process.

During the hearings, the court had also sought clarification from the ECI on various technical aspects of the EVMs and VVPATs, including the location of the microcontrollers and the storage duration of the data. The ECI officials provided detailed explanations, assuring the court that the machines are standalone and cannot be tampered with, although the possibility of human error cannot be completely ruled out.

The Supreme Court’s ruling comes at a crucial time, as India is in the midst of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, which commenced on April 19 and will be held in seven phases. The court’s decision to uphold the integrity of the country’s electronic voting system is a significant victory for the ECI and a testament to the robustness of India’s democratic institutions.

The verdict is likely to have far-reaching implications, as it reinforces the public’s trust in the electoral process and sends a clear message that unfounded allegations and “blindly distrusting” the system can undermine the foundations of Indian democracy. The court’s emphasis on maintaining a “balanced perspective” and building “harmony and trust” between institutions is a timely reminder of the importance of constructive engagement and evidence-based discourse in the realm of electoral reforms.

Hashtags: #IndiaElections2024 #EVMVerification #SupremeCourt #ElectionCommission #DemocracyInIndia #VoterTrust #ElectoralReforms

 

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