All-party meet to show EVMs with verifiable vote, apex court told

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The Election Commission Thursday told the Supreme Court that it has convened an all-party meet May 10 to demonstrate the voters verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the EVMs and evolve consensus on its introduction.

The commission has called a meeting of all the recognized national and state political parties to demonstrate the VVPAT unit and hold discussions for eliciting their views, senior counsel Ashok Desai told a bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

In the EVM with VVPAT, a printer is completely sealed and inaccessible to the voter. It will have a window on its front side that would display the vote exercised by the voter for him to verify his vote. Thereafter, it gets cut and automatically falls into a sealed box.

Desai told the court that commission would moved ahead after a consensus is evolved at the all-party meeting. He said the introduction of VVPAT would depend on the outcome of the all-party meeting.

The commission told the court that it would require 13 lakh VVPAT units to be manufactured for 13 lakhs EVMs at an approximate cost of Rs.1,690 crore.

“Now we are happy that it has actually materialized,” Justice Sathasivam said, while perusing the Election Commission affidavit giving details of steps it had already taken and will take in future after May 10 all party meet.

“The next step is when we are going to implement them,” he said.

The EC affidavit said that for implementing the new system, the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, would require certain amendments.

Appearing for the central government, Attorney General G.E.Vahanvati told the court that the law and justice ministry was looking into the suggested amendments.

If EC decides to go ahead with the introduction of VVPAT, then the allocation had to be made and parliament would take a call on it, Vahanvati said. He said that the financial allocation had to be approved by parliament.

He told the court that as far as government was concerned the introduction of VVPAT was entirely between the Election Commission and all other stake holders.

As court adjourned the hearing till August 22, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, who had moved the court for the introduction of VVPAT, said: “If for some unforeseeable reason, they (the poll panel) are not able to put in place remedial steps, I may have the right to came back and seek return to old ballot paper system.”

Swamy had moved the apex court seeking the EVMs with print out facility so that in case of a dispute on the outcome of the election, the same could be verified by the print out of the vote cast through EVMs. He had contended that the recording of the votes on the print out was necessary because EVMs were not tamper proof.

Each VVPAT unit that would cost Rs. 13,000/- has been produced by the Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).

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