The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused last-minute interference with the scheduled counting of votes for the Assembly elections to five states and declined to give an urgent hearing to a plea that sought random matching of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with electronic voting machines (EVM) verification in more polling booths, and before counting begins.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana turned down the prayer to hear it on Wednesday after the Election Commission said that it is following the apex court’s judgment on VVPAT slip verification, and that officials have already been trained according to this.
“We are not interfering, let counting go on as per established practice, procedures and law. They (EC) are following judgment; they have made a statement,” the CJI said, after senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the EC, explained the poll panel’s stand.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said the petition will be considered in the regular course.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora had sought an urgent hearing on Wednesday, as the counting of votes for the Assembly elections is scheduled for Friday.
But the CJI asked why didn’t the petitioner raise the urgency earlier and wait till the last minute. “What can we do last-minute,” CJI Ramana asked.
The petition sought an increase in the number of booths per constituency where VVPAT verification is done from the present five to 25. It also prayed that the verification be done before the counting starts, as the candidates or their agents do not wait for it once they know the outcome in the last round of counting.