It Was Your Party: Judges Rebuke Kapil Sibal On EVMs (Vote Machines)

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It Was Your Party: Judges Rebuke Kapil Sibal On EVMs (Vote Machines)

Opposition parties have asked the top court to order that only VVPATs are used in all elections.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Opposition challenges delay in use of upgraded voting machines
  2. VVPATs are machines that give paper receipt for each vote
  3. Where are VVPATs, top court asks centre, Election Commission
As opposition parties demand that voting in India return to old-school ballot papers, the powerful Election Commission and the centre have been asked by the Supreme Court to explain the delay in switching to upgraded machines that provide a paper receipt, clearly showing which party was chosen by each voter.

VVPATs are electronic voting machines with a Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. When a button is pushed to choose a candidate on a voting machine, a slip of paper shows the party symbol of the candidate selected. The receipt is visible to the voter for a few seconds before it drops into a sealed box.



Opposition parties including Mayawati's BSP have asked the top court to order that only VVPATs are used in all elections. Their case was filed after the BJP's outsized victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where they allege voting machines were gamed in favour of the BJP. The Election Commission has firmly rejected the accusations and said that in May, it will hold a hackathon to prove that the voting machines in use cannot be manipulated.

Arguing for Mayawati's party was former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram, who said that despite the Supreme Court's order in 2013, machines with paper trails are not used for elections. He also pointed out that the Election Commission is being kept waiting by the centre on its request for 3,000 crores to purchase voting machines with paper receipts for the next general election in 2019.

His colleague from the Congress, Kapil Sibal, was representing their party in the top court and was reprimanded by judges for stating that except South America, no other country uses electronic voting machines (EVMs). "Mr Sibal, your party only introduced EVMs," said judges, "how can you say no other country uses it. EVMs are remedy to booth capturing and other ills."

Mr Sibal replied that technology is not invincible and said that "even the Pentagon can be hacked."

The court will hear the case next on May 8.

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