The Supreme Court today asked the Election Commission to explore the possibility of introducing Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in EVMs to maintain paper record of each vote for upcoming assembly polls in five states and next general election in 2014.
The apex court's poser to the Election Commission came after the poll panel said VVPAT was successfully and satisfactorily utilised for Nagaland Assembly elections in February this year. "Is it possible for you to introduce VVPAT in November-December assembly elections?," a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Election Commission. "We will wait for ten days and we are reserving the order," said the bench which was hearing a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to the poll watchdog to ensure EVMs have a paper trail and issue a receipt to each voter.
The bench, which adjourned the matter for two weeks, also asked the EC to consider whether VVPAT can be introduced in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Senior advocates Ashok Desai and Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the Election Commission, said VVPAT can be introduced in a phased manner and cited the administrative and financial reasons for it. They said approximately Rs 1500 crore would be required for procuring VVPAT for installing it at all polling booths across the country for the Lok Sabha polls and there are only two state-owned companies -- Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) -- which manufacture the machines. "The Election Commission has written to the Centre for administrative and financial requirement for VVPAT. We have sought ten thousand machines from each of the two companies. The machines have to be introduced in a phased manner and gradual style to cover one million polling booths," they said.