SC to hear plea by Congress party on Gujarat polls
The Supreme Court today agreed to hear this month end a plea by the Congress party seeking directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to frame guidelines for counting of votes through VVPAT machines in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly poll and other elections.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought the assistance of Attorney General K K Venugopal in the matter which is to be heard on October 30.
Prakash Joshi, secretary of All India Congress Committee, has moved the top court seeking a direction to the EC to install CCTV cameras inside the polling booth to watch the “mobility of persons inside”.
During the hearing, senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha, appearing for him, told the bench that this matter was required to be heard expeditiously as dates for the Gujarat Assembly elections were expected to be declared soon.
“Let a copy of the petition be served to the central agency so that we can have assistance of Attorney General,” the bench said.
The petition said the poll panel should be directed not to post any official, who is facing any inquiry or disciplinary proceedings, in key positions in the districts on contract basis or on extension of time from services.
The plea said they had made representations to the EC in raising these issues but no decision was taken by it.
It has also sought the apex court’s direction to the poll panel not to disturb the voters’ list without notice to the voters as well as the concerned political parties.
“…issue direction to install CCTV cameras inside the polling booth to watch the mobility of persons inside the polling booth and such videograph has to be displayed along with the number of votes poll, outside the polling booth on a display board,” the plea said.
The plea has said the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee had initially given a representation to the state election commission on September 21 expressing concern specifically regarding the comparison of electronic results with the paper trail results.
It said thereafter, another representation was filed on September 22 raising several issues, including framing of rules and guidelines for counting of votes through the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.
The plea said the party had suggested to the poll panel to increase the visibility time of VVPAT paper trail from 7 to 13 seconds and hold random checks of the VVPAT machines.
It also said there should be video recording of paper trail prints which should be preserved for 120 days.
The plea said that though the EC said it would look into these issues, no decision has been conveyed to them so far.
In August, the EC had told the apex court that it would be able to conduct the Gujarat assembly elections using Electronic Voting Machines with paper trail.
The EC had told this to the court which was hearing a separate petition seeking direction for use of VVPAT machines in Gujarat Assembly polls.