The Supreme Court today asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to file an affidavit giving details of how much fund they have received from the Centre to procure paper trail equipment for use with electronic voting machines. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer gave the direction to the ECI after senior counsel P Chidambaram, appearing for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), referred to media reports and said the Centre has sanctioned funds for procurement of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT).
The Union Cabinet had last month cleared ECI’s proposal for Rs 3,174 crore to procure the VVPAT equipments for use in the future elections.
“The ECI is here. Let them file a counter affidavit detailing as to when these machines (VVPAT) will be used in elections. Elections for some states are coming. Let them say this specifically,” Chidambaram told the bench.
The apex court is hearing two petitions, including the one filed by Mayawati-led BSP which, after the drubbing in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has claimed large scale tampering of EVMs.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narsimha told the apex court that funds have been cleared for procuring VVPAT.
However, the bench said, “they (petitioners) want to know what is the amount given and when will you use it. You file a counter affidavit”.
To this, Narsimha said he would file an affidavit in this regard.
“List the matters in the third week of July. In the meantime, counter affidavit be filed,” the bench said.
The apex court on April 13 had sought responses from the Centre and ECI on the pleas challenging the use of EVMs without paper trail.
The petitioner had earlier told the bench that the use of EVMs without VVPAT created serious doubts about the accuracy of voting and a paper trail was needed so that the voter gets a feedback of the vote cast by him.
They had said that to ensure accuracy in the voting process, paper trail was needed as there were chances of tampering with the EVMs. They had also quoted reports that both the hardware and the software of these machines were “vulnerable”.
They had said that around three lakh VVPAT attachments were required for the entire country which would could cost around Rs 3,000 crore.