After SC declines, opposition parties urge EC to expand VVPAT verification
The opposition parties have also demanded from the EC to promulgate a law to check any discrepancy in the ballot cross-checking
New Delhi: The opposition parties on Tuesday urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to expand the ambit of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) verification after the Supreme Court rejected their plea to match 50 per cent electronic voting machines (EVMs) with VVPAT slips.
"We have demanded from the ECI to cross-check 50 per cent EVMs with VVPAT slips for the sake of the credibility of voting and the people's confidence in the poll body. We have also clarified that the Supreme Court has not restricted the poll body to take any decision in this regard," senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.
A delegation of leaders from 21 opposition parties visited the poll body headquarters here with their demands pertaining to VVPAT verification. The opposition leaders, however, did not specify the percentage of EMVs they want to be crosschecked with VVPATs and said that they have left the decision to be taken by the EC.
Earlier in the day, the apex court turned down the review plea filed by 21 opposition parties seeking a direction to the ECI to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50 per cent of EVMs during the counting of Lok Sabha votes, scheduled for May 23.
The opposition parties have also demanded from the EC to promulgate a law to check any discrepancy in the ballot cross-checking.
Singhvi said: "There is a big gap in the EC rulebook. There is no clarity as to what will happen if there is any discrepancy in VVPAT sample checks in five segments in an Assembly constituency."
"If any discrepancy is found, there should be a high-level inquiry and the probe report should be made public," the Congress leader added.
The delegation also suggested the Election Commissioner to engage more manpower to speed up the vote counting process.
Singhvi said: "There is no argument to authorise only Returning Officers (ROs) and observers to inspect the cross-checking of VVPAT. We have demanded to increase the manpower."
The delegation consisted of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, CPI leader D Raja and others.
Talking to media persons, Raja accused the BJP of undermining constitutional institutions including the EC. "It is a matter of concern that the BJP is undermining the constitutional institutions including the Election Commission of our country," he said.
So far, five phases of Lok Sabha elections have been conducted, while the remaining two phases of polling are scheduled for May 12 and 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
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