N Chandrababu Naidu v Union of India
On April 8th the SC ordered the Election Commission to increase the number of election booths that undergo VVPAT slip matching.
Petitioner: N Chandrababu Naidu; Sharad Chandra Pawar; K.C. Venugopal; Derek Obrien; Sharad Yadav; Akhilesh Yadav; Satish Chandra Mishra; M.K. Stalin; T.K. Rangarajan; Manoj Kumar; Arvind Kejriwal; Farooq Abdullah; Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy; Kunwar Danish Ali; Ajit Singh; Mohammed Badruddin; Jitin Ram Manjhi; Ashok Kumar Singh; Khorrum Anis Omer; Kodandaram; K.G. Kenye
Lawyers: Kapil Sibal; A.M. Singhvi
Respondent: Union Of India; Election Commission of India
Lawyers: C.A. Sundaram
How many EVMs must be installed with VVPAT systems in order to ensure free and fair elections?
In February 2019, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu and a number of other political leaders, approached the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission (EC) to match a higher number of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips. VVPAT is an independent vote verification system, which allows a voter to see whether their vote was cast correctly. VVPAT generates a paper slip that the voter can view — the paper slip is kept in a sealed cover, which can be opened in case a dispute arises. The petitioners wanted the Election Commision to physically verify a higher number of VVPAT slips.
Mr. Naidu requested the Court to issue the following orders:
- Direct the EC to verify 50% of VVPAT slips in each Assembly Segment/Constituency.
- Quash the EC guideline stating that only 1 randomly selected polling station in each Assembly Segment/Constituency will undergo verification of VVPAT slips (guideline 16.6 in the Manual on Electronic Voting Machine and VVPAT)
EVMs have been used in all 543 Parliamentary Constituencies since 2004. In August, 2013 the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 were amended to allow the EC to use EVMs with VVPATs. In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the EC to introduce VVPAT in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In response to the petition, the EC filed an affidavit, submitting that if 50% VVPAT slips were double-counted, this would delay the announcement of results by at least 6 days.
On April 8th 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission to increase the number of booths that undergo VVPAT physical verification. It increased the number of booths per Assembly Segment from 1 to 5 booths.
On May 7th 2018, the Court briefly heard the review petitions challenging its 8th April order. The petitioners emphasised that physical verification in 5 booths per Segment is the equivalent of around 2% verification. They had pleaded for 50% verification. However, the Court declined to modify its previous order.