The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the central government and the Election Commission of India (ECI) on the Bahujan Samaj Party’s plea against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without paper trial. It said that to ensure transparency in elections and making EVMs tamper proof, Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) should be made mandatory in EVMs.
A bench led by J Chelameswar while issuing notice said that “technically, we agree that any technology can be tampered with but you have to have sufficient grounds for raising doubts.” “The electronic voting machine itself was introduced to stop larger evils like booth capturing. This is a work in progress,” the court added.
Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the BSP, argued that use of EVMs without voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the elections creates a serious doubt about the accuracy of voting and paper trail was required so that a voter can get a feedback of the vote cast by him. He further said that to assure accuracy in the voting process, paper trail is needed as there were chances of tampering with EVMs as there were reports that both the hardware and software of these machines are vulnerable. “There is no way that a voter can verify as to whether the vote cast by him has gone to the right candidate. Without a paper trail, there is no way to verify it.
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In EVMs, a voter is only pressing the button and he does not know whether the machine is recording his voting correctly or not,” he said. However, Chidambaram said that the results of the recently concluded elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, is not questioned.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the bench that the Congress party also wants to intervene in the matter. “Nowhere in the world, except in one country, these EVMs are being used,” Sibal said, adding, every technology can be hacked and that is our concern.
The Congress also pointed out that over 3 lakh VVPAT attachments are required all over the country which could cost the government over Rs 3,000 crore.
Even Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party also sought to intervene in the case.