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How the final vote percentage increased after voting, Supreme Court sought answer from the Election Commission

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Election Commission on the application of Association for Democratic Reforms, an NGO. In this application, citing the increase in the final voting percentage after a few days of voting, the fear of possible replacement of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has been raised. A bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra has ordered the Election Commission to file its reply on the ADR petition by May 24. The vacation bench will hear this petition during the summer vacation of the court starting from Monday.

Clash over final voting percentage figures

In its petition, ADR has demanded from the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission to publish the voting figures within 48 hours of the end of voting. When the bench asked ‘what is the difficulty in uploading the voting data on the website’, the Election Commission’s counsel replied. ‘It takes time because we have to collect a lot of data,’ he said. The Chief Justice said that the Election Commission should be given some time to respond to the petition. The bench listed it for hearing before the vacation bench on May 24, a day before the sixth phase of elections. Earlier on April 26, the Supreme Court had rejected the petition regarding the return of ADR to the ballot paper and raising doubts on EVMs.

Data should be known immediately after voting, delay causes doubt, application filed in Supreme Court

ADR raised questions on voting figures

The Election Commission’s lawyer raised questions on the petition filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of ADR. Election Commission’s lawyer and senior advocate Maninder Singh emphasized that the senior officials of the Commission had answered every doubt expressed by the NGO’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan on the petition filed last time. In that petition, doubts were expressed on the fairness of the election process and an appeal was made for voting through ballot paper. Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Election Commission, said that the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has made completely false allegations in the petition. Moreover, a recent judgment of another bench of the apex court headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna has dealt with the issues which are also part of the present case.

Election Commission’s lawyers opposed the new petition

On April 26, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Dutta, after several talks with Election Commission officials, had rejected the plea seeking re-adoption of ballot paper and 100 per cent matching of voting done by EVMs with VVPATs. The Supreme Court had clearly said during the hearing that EVMs are reliable. Now on the new petition of ADR, Election Commission’s lawyer Maninder Singh said, ‘Just because Prashant Bhushan wants to bring anything to the court through an application, that too in a petition pending since 2019, the court should not consider it. . These are attempts to disrupt the election process, four phases of which have been completed smoothly. Prashant Bhushan opposed this plea saying that the issue related to voter voting data was not part of the previous petition.

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If necessary, will sit all night for hearing: SC

The CJI-led bench objected to the allegation of giving preference to Prashant Bhushan and said, ‘This is a false allegation. If we feel that an issue requires the court’s attention and intervention, we will do so. No matter who brings it before the court. If necessary, we will sit the whole night to hear the case. In fact, the bench heard this ADR petition at 6.10 pm, hours after the scheduled business hours ended.

On April 26, a bench of Justice Khanna and Justice Dutta had said, ‘In our view, EVMs are simple, secure and user friendly. Voters, candidates, their representatives and Election Commission officials are aware of the intricacies of the EVM system. The inclusion of the VVPAT system strengthens the principle of vote verification. This increases the overall accountability of the electoral process. Justice Khanna and Justice Dutta had also detailed the process of counting and publishing of voting percentage under Form 17C.

This is how the matter of voting percentage reached the court

Soon after the letter written by Congress, TMC and CPM to the Election Commission, ADR had moved the Supreme Court with an application. The petition alleged inordinate delay in releasing the final vote counting data for the first and second phases of the ongoing elections. ADR alleged that the final figures of voting held on April 19 were published on April 30. Voting for the second phase took place on 26 April and its final figures were published on 30 April. In this way, the final data of the first phase of voting was released after 11 days and the final data of the second phase of voting was released after 4 days.

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ADR made this appeal to the Supreme Court

ADR said, ‘If we compare the final voting figures given by the Election Commission in the press release of April 30, it is about 5-6 percent more than the figures received on the day of voting. The inordinate delay in releasing the final voting figures, followed by the unusual discrepancy of more than 5 per cent in the Election Commission’s press note issued on April 30, raises questions. ADR appealed to the Supreme Court and said that these apprehensions should be removed. To maintain voter confidence, it is necessary that the Election Commission be directed to display scanned copies of Form 17C Part I (Account of Recorded Votes) of all polling stations on its website. It should contain certified data of votes cast within 48 hours of the end of polling.

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