With just two days left for Gujarat Assembly elections results to be declared, repolling will be held at six polling stations on Sunday. The re-polling will take place in places including Vadgam, Viramgam, Daskroi and Savli. As per the statement by the Election Commission, the counting of votes would be done through counting of slips in VVPAT in 10 polling stations. “Counting of votes to be done through counting of slips in VVPAT in 10 polling stations in Visnagar, Becharaji, Modasa, Vejalpur, Vatva, Jamalpur-Khadia, Savli & Sankheda as Presiding officers didn’t clear from the Control units the votes cast during the mock poll,” the EC said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Gujarat Congress’ request to direct the EC to match the VVPAT paper trail with the results from at least 20 percent EVMs which were deployed across the state, which went to Assembly elections on December 9 and 14 in two phases. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, while hearing the case said, “We can’t substitute the decision of the Election Commission unless you demonstrate that the poll panel’s decision is either arbitrary or not in accordance with the law.”
The party had made this request after some exit polls on television channels suggested the BJP is likely to head for a landslide victory in Himachal Pradesh defeating the incumbent Congress and will also retain power for a sixth successive term in Gujarat. The top court had wondered how it can discredit the poll panel’s decision unless there is something to prove petitioner’s apprehensions.
Appearing on behalf of GPCC secretary Mohammad Arif Rajput, senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said even the election body has the apprehension and that it has provided for the counting only at one booth, making it 0.00001 percent of the about 50,000 polling booths where voters exercised their franchise in Gujarat.
Scaling down his demand, Singhvi said the counting of paper trails should take place in at least 10 percent of the booths per constituency after the apex court said it cannot override the EC’s complete discretion to conduct the polls.
The bench, in its reply, said it had rejected a petition recently challenging the discretionary power of a returning officer under 56(D)(2) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, which confer the discretionary power on the returning officer to refuse to count of the VVPAT.