EVMs Row: SC Asks EC, Centre To Explain; Punjab CM Questions Party’s Stand

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Election Commission and the Central Government to explain the delay in upgrading the machines so that they will be proving a paper receipt which show to whom the vote was cast.

New Delhi: Even as the by-polls to ten Assembly seats were shared equally by the BJP and the Congress, the debate and litigation continues on the desirability of using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Election Commission and the Central Government to explain the delay in upgrading the machines so that they will be proving a paper receipt which show to whom the vote was cast.

Voter- Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) would be the upgraded version of the present EVMs. When a voter presses a button a piece of paper, showing the symbol for which he or she has voted, will come out and the paper drops in a sealed box. The voter can thus confirm to whom the vote was cast.

Mayawati, the BSP chief, was the first leader to allege that the UP Assembly elections, which were swept by the BJP, were rigged by programming the EVMs so that all votes went to the saffron party. The Congress and the Left parties also have taken up the issue in Parliament. The leaders of the opposition parties also met the President and gave a representation to him pleading for opting for the old ballot paper method.

The Election Commission has stoutly refuted the allegations and said it would organise a hackathon in May. The EC challenged the opposition parties to prove the allegation by manipulating the machines.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram has appeared in SC for the BSP. He said in spite of the apex court’s order in 2013, EVMs with paper trail have not been used. Moreover, the Centre did not provide ₹3000 crore asked by EC to buy EVMs with paper trails.

When Kapil Sibal was arguing for the Congress, the judges commented that,”Mr Sibbal, your party has introduced the machines. How can you say no other country uses it. EVMs are a remedy for booth capturing.” The SC will hear the case again on May 8.

In the meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who won a thumping majority in Feb-March Assembly poll, has commented how can the Congress explain its Punjab victory if it questions the impartiality of EVMs. Veerappa Moily, former Law Minister, also disagreed with the view of the Congress High Command on this issue. He was summoned by the party bosses.

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