EVMs Deemed Simple, Secure & User-Friendly; Rejects 100% EVM-VVPAT Verification Plea: Supreme Court

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court rejected pleas for 100% EVM-VVPAT verification, affirming EVMs' integrity. The case, titled Association for Democratic Reforms vs Election Commission of India, emphasized evidence-based discussions to avoid unwarranted distrust.

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court declined petitions requesting 100% cross-verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) data with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) records. The court emphasized that EVMs are simple, secure, and user-friendly, and reiterated the importance of maintaining trust in the electoral process.

The bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta highlighted the need for evidence-based discussions regarding EVMs. They emphasized, "We acknowledge the right of voters to question the working of EVMs... However, it is also necessary to exercise care and caution when we raise aspersions on the integrity of the electoral process." The court cautioned against baseless doubts that could undermine public confidence in elections.

The petitions, filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, along with individuals Abhay Bhakchand Chhajed and Arun Kumar Aggarwal, urged for thorough verification of all VVPATs, rather than the current practice of random selection. They also sought measures to ensure the accuracy of vote recording and counting.

However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) opposed the petitions, arguing that they lacked valid grounds and could cast undue doubt on the reliability of EVMs and VVPATs. The ECI emphasized the efficiency of EVMs, stating that manually counting all VVPAT paper slips would be time-consuming and prone to error.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the need for a voting mechanism that prioritizes security, accountability, and accuracy. It affirmed that EVMs, along with the VVPAT system, uphold these principles. The court stated, "In our considered opinion, the EVMs are simple, secure and user-friendly... Moreover, the incorporation of the VVPAT system fortifies the principle of vote verifiability."

To further enhance the integrity of the electoral process, the court issued directives:

  1. Symbol loading units in VVPATs shall be sealed and secured after completion of the loading process, and kept in strong rooms along with EVMs for at least 45 days post-results declaration.
  2. A sample check of burnt memory/microcontrollers in 5% of EVMs per assembly constituency/segment shall be conducted post-results, upon written request by specific candidates. The expenses for this verification will be borne by the requesting candidate, with a refund if tampering is detected.

Justice Dipankar Datta, in a concurring judgment, stressed the importance of conclusively addressing doubts regarding EVM efficacy. He cautioned against regressive measures and advocated for a balanced, evidence-based approach to maintain the credibility of the electoral system.

The petitions were disposed of accordingly.