SC to hear EC’s plea for EVMs and VVPATs

New Delhi [India], September 1 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear of the Election Commission of India’s plea alleging that EVMs and VVPAT machines used in the assembly elections of six states are lying unused as they are preserved due to an order extending the limitation period for filing pleas and need to be released.
A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna agreed to hear the plea of the poll panel next week after Senior Advocate Vikas Singh sought an urgent hearing of the case. Singh submitted that a large number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines (VVPATs) are still being preserved and need to be released.
He sought that a timeline is fixed for filing election petitions relating to assembly polls of Assam, Kerala, Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
Contending that these machines would be used in the upcoming elections, Singh said, “We have to maintain these EVMs and VVPAT machines and hearing is necessary as elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Punjab are coming up.”
The apex court, on April 27 this year, while taking note of the onset of the second COVID-19 wave had relaxed the statutory period for filing petitions, including the election petitions, under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It means that anybody can still file a petition challenging the election of a returned candidate and as per procedure, the poll panel is required to preserve EVMs and VVPAT machines, having evidentiary value, to put forth its views in judicial proceedings.
“The poll panel is seeking appropriate directions from this court fixing a timeline for filing of Election Petitions in the States/Union Territories of Assam, Kerala, NCT of Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, as in absence of the same, all EVMs used in these States/Union Territories are currently stuck or unable to be used/deployed for upcoming/future elections due to the order dated April 27, 2021, passed by this court,” said the plea.
It said all the EVMs and VVPATs belonging to the Election Commission of India that were used in recently held assembly elections are blocked and cannot be used in future/upcoming elections and as a result of the apex court’s order, the EC is unable to use a substantial number of EVMs.

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