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EVM row: Supreme Court snubs Congress, reminds who brought in voting machines

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EVM row: Supreme Court snubs Congress, reminds who brought in voting machines

The Supreme Court on Thursday snubbed the Congress for questioning the credibility of EVMs after losing Assembly polls in several states, reminding the party that the government headed by Congress itself had brought in the voting machines.

"Mr Sibal, your party only introduced EVMs. Then how can you now blame it and how can you say no other country uses it. EVMs are remedy to booth capturing and other ills," said Justice Jasti Chelameswar.

The judge made the remarks when Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, during the hearing of a petition filed by the BSP seeking introduction of EVM paper trails, said "except South America, no other country uses EVMs.

When senior advocate P Chidambaram who appeared for BSP alleged large scale tampering of EVMs during recent round of Assembly elections and said not only the BSP but also parties like Congress and AAP have also complained about it, the bench retorted " do not go into the politics of it. We will not be hearing any such arguments and allegations as there will not be any end to it. We will only be dealing the petition on merits".

The court meanwhile issued notice to the Centre and Election Commission on BSP's petition seeking immediate introduction of a paper trail with every EVM voting to ensure there is no tampering with the machine. Next hearing is on May 8.

Chidambaram said there was no other way a voter could verify that the vote has gone to the symbol and person he intended.

"It is indispensible for free and fair elections and restore confidence of voters," he argued.

"I (voter) press a button on the EVM and I don't know what the machine has recorded. There is no way I can know that the machine is recording the wishes of the electorate. If the EVM is fixed to a vote-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine, the voter can see whether the symbol the voter presses is the symbol the EVM registers in the system," he said.

He submitted that the EC wrote 10 letters to the Centre in 2014 for funds to introduce paper trail but nothing has yet happened.

He also pointed out that the Election Commission is being kept waiting by the Centre on its request for Rs 3,000 crore to purchase voting machines with paper receipts for the next general election in 2019.

A total of Rs 3000 crore is required to set up the EVMS with paper trail option, but the way things are proceeding, it would take another 150 years, Chidambaram submitted.

The VVPATs are electronic voting machines in which when a button is pressed to choose a candidate on a voting machine, a slip of paper shows the party symbol of the candidate selected.

The receipt is visible to the voter for a few seconds before it drops into a sealed box.


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