The Supreme Court on Monday granted a week’s time to the 21 opposition parties to file their response on the Election Commission affidavit opposing the former’s plea seeking that VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent of voting machines in each assembly constituency be checked randomly in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The EC, asked on March 25 by the apex court to give its view on increasing the number of random sample surveys from one booth per assembly segment, said that in the future elections it may consider suggestions for further improving the holding of polls in free and fair manner.
The affidavit said that the 21 opposition leaders have not disclose "even one specific instance for this Court to come to a conclusion that the existing system would in any manner adversely influence the free and fair elections."
Further, the poll panel said the petition by them does not raise any new or different apprehension or grievance as was raised in the earlier cases, nor brings out any grave or serious reason requiring a revamping of the system that has been adopted for the purpose of the conduct of the 2019 elections.
"It is further submitted that when the polls are imminent and polling is to commence from April 11, 2019, to now seek to alter the system adopted by the Election Commission of India at this stage might not be feasible," the affidavit said.
In addition, the poll panel, which opposed the petition of 21 opposition leaders, said 50 per cent VVPAT slip verification in each assembly segment of a Parliamentary Constituency or Assembly Constituency on an average shall enlarge the time required for counting to about six days.
"It is also relevant to mention that in many Assembly Constituencies, there are more than 400 polling stations, which will require about 8-9 days to complete the VVPAT slip count. It is pertinent to mention that demands for re-count that routinely arise of the VVPAT slips themselves, which will compound the time requirement," the affidavit said.
It further said that increased VVPAT slip counting will require extensive training and capacity building of election officials in the field and substantial increase of such officials will be required for deployment in the field.