EC buys time on paper trail

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  • Published 6.12.11

Guwahati, Dec. 5: The Election Commission has sought more time to file an affidavit in Gauhati High Court, explaining its position on supplementing the electronic voting machines (EVMs) with the voter verifiable paper trail (VVPT) system.

On October 21, Justice B.D. Agarwal, during hearing of a petition filed by the AGP, had passed an order asking the poll panel to submit an affidavit before the court explaining its stand on the issue by today.

However, the commission sought more time to file the affidavit.

A single judge bench of Justice Arup Kumar Goswami granted the plea and fixed February 6, 2012, as the next date of hearing.

On behalf of the AGP, general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan had filed the writ petition (civil) 5352 of 2011 seeking introduction of the VVPT system to ensure free and fair elections.

Advocates Bijon Kumar Mahajan, Arshad Choudhury, Pranab Kumar Das and N.J. Das represented the petitioner in court.

In the petition, Bhuyan had pleaded before the court to direct the Election Commission to implement the VVPT system, saying that it could only ensure the accuracy of recorded votes by comparing the electronic data stored in the EVMs with the collected receipts.

The VVPT provides a printed ballot as a receipt, which a voter can view to verify his or her vote before leaving the polling booth.

According to the AGP leader, the provision of printed ballot papers would enable election officials to recount the votes in case of any dispute between candidates.

Making a reference to the last Assembly elections in Assam, Bhuyan had said that the unexpected results in favour of the Congress suggested that use of EVM without VVPT was not foolproof.

He said the use of EVM in its current form violated the fundamental rights of citizens of the country.

In 2010, altogether 13 political parties, including AIADMK, AGP, CPI, CPM, JD (U), JD (S), RLD, RJD, RSP, SP and TDP, among others, had called on the Election Commission to take urgent steps to reform the voting system.

, stating that the EVM-related concerns were of national importance.