Voters Can't Decide Manner of Casting Votes: Govt to SC on VVPAT Machines

New Delhi: Underlining that voters cannot have the right to decide the manner of casting votes, the Central government has opposed in the Supreme Court a batch of petitions on mandatory use of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) with EVMs during elections.

Submitting its affidavit, the Union Law Ministry said that VVPAT could be used just as a “backup” facility for EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines), which are adequately “reliable and tamper proof” machines.

“There is no adjudication by this Hon’ble court or any other on the unsoundness of functioning of EVMs. In this background, it is respectfully submitted that any petition seeking a mandatory direction in bringing in VVPAT is liable to be rejected outright,” stated the Ministry’s affidavit.

It emphasised that since use of VVPAT was “not indispensable in the organisation of an election,” the enormous investment involved in procurement, storage and maintenance of VVPAT machines did not warrant deployment of these units in a time-bound mandatory manner. It pointed out that VVPAT machines will also have a shelf life of 15 years and their replacement will cause huge expenditure.

“EVMs are reliable and tamper proof, thus the VVPAT units must be considered as a backup and as an additional measure to ensure transparency in the electoral process,” said the Ministry.

About an elector’s right, the affidavit stated that the right to vote did not include the right to choose manner of casting votes. “This sphere must necessarily be left to the autonomous expert body, namely the Election Commission of India,” it added.

The Ministry further said that use of EVMs did not invade voter’s right to vote nor did it in any manner came in the way of free and fair elections.

The Supreme Court will examine this affidavit on Thursday. The court is hearing a clutch of PILs, which have challenged the credibility of EVMs and have sought directive for mandatory use of paper audit trails if EVMs are to be used.

Earlier, the Election Commission had also told the Supreme Court that its EVMs are fully tamper-proof and credible machines, which can’t be hacked.

It sought that all PILs claiming that EVMs are faulty machines must be dismissed since there has not been even one evidence of such lapse.

The EC said EVMs in India are better machines than the electronic voting machines used in the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland. It pointed out that EVMs in foreign countries rely on internet connectivity, whereas EVMs here are standalone devices which work on a completely internal platform.


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