The Supreme Court will hear next week a plea by Congress leader Kamal Nath for directions to the Election Commission to carry out verification of VVPAT units in at least 10 per cent randomly selected booths in each constituency of Madhya Pradesh ahead of Assembly polls.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear the matter as the petitioner’s lawyer mentioned the matter for early hearing.
Kamal Nath, President of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, has also sought directions to the Election Commission to expeditiously decide all complaints and publish the voter’s lists thereof.
He has also sought to prohibit of the Election Commission from deleting the names of voters from lists without intimation to the political parties.
The elections to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly are scheduled in November-December and are likely to coincide with those in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.
The senior Congress leader also sought a slew of directions, apart from random VVPAT checks, mock polls and recounting, collection of paper trails and storage, unique identification numbers on VVPATs and paper trail collection boxes, and transportation of EVMs and VVPATs before and after polls.
Referring to the commission’s press note that of the total 16.15 lakh Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) units, only 5.88 lakhs have been delivered and there was a delay in their manufacture and procurement, Kamal Nath expressed apprehension that such machines used in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections are likely to be used in Madhya Pradesh as well.
The petitioner urged for court directions to the Election Commission not to post any officials facing disciplinary proceedings or inquiries, or are on the contract basis or on an extension after retirement in key posts in different districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Seeking safe and secure transportation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPATs during the Assembly elections, the former Union Minister sought direction to the poll panel to conduct the Assembly elections with the latest tamper-proof EVMs and VVPATs.
The Congress leader sought directions to increase the duration of VVPAT display of exercised votes from present seven seconds to 15 seconds.
He sought a ten-fold increase in the number of VVPATs to be used in mock polls to 50 per cent of the total units.
This is the second time that the Congress had moved the top court before Assembly elections.
The Supreme Court had on December 14 last year declined to entertain Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee plea for directions to the Election Commission to count votes through paper trail attached to the EVMs in 20 per cent of polling booths in Gujarat, where Assembly elections were held in November 2017.
Declining to entertain the plea, the top court had then said: “We can’t substitute the Election Commission decision unless you demonstrate it is either arbitrary or not in accordance with law.”