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April 26, 2024

Supreme Court Rejects Pleas for 100% EVM-VVPAT Verification, Directs Sealing of Symbol Loading Units

Supreme Court Upholds EVM-VVPAT Process, Directs Sealing of Symbol Loading Units

The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, rejected all pleas seeking 100% EVM-VVPAT verification. Instead, it directed the sealing and securing of Symbol Loading Units, asserting confidence in the existing electoral process. The bench, comprised of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, passed this directive, marking a significant decision in India’s electoral landscape.

In previous hearings, the Supreme Court had raised technical questions regarding the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems. It directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to queries concerning cross-verification procedures.

The Election Commission’s response outlined several key aspects of EVM functionality. It confirmed that each unit – ballot unit, VVPAT, and chip – contains its own microcontroller securely housed within an unauthorized access detection module. This setup prevents external tampering or access.

Furthermore, the Election Commission clarified that all microcontrollers within the EVMs are one-time programmable, meaning they are permanently programmed upon insertion and cannot be altered thereafter. This ensures the integrity of the voting process and prevents any manipulation of the system.

Regarding the storage and sealing of units, the Election Commission disclosed that control units are sealed due to their storage of polling data. During commissioning, all three units are sealed with a pink seal, and the VVPAT is also sealed with signatures collected from all polling agents. This rigorous sealing process adds another layer of security to the electoral process.

The Supreme Court’s decision to reject pleas for 100% EVM-VVPAT verification reflects a balance between ensuring transparency and maintaining the efficiency of the electoral process. However, the court also directed that candidates have the option to verify the microcontroller program of EVMs with the help of a team of engineers after the declaration of results. This provision adds an additional layer of assurance to the electoral process, allowing for scrutiny if necessary.

The decision comes after the Supreme Court had reserved its judgment on Wednesday, following the Election Commission’s responses to the technical queries raised by the bench. With this directive, the Supreme Court reaffirms its commitment to upholding the integrity of the electoral process while addressing concerns raised by various stakeholders.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s rejection of pleas for 100% EVM-VVPAT verification underscores its confidence in the existing electoral mechanisms. By directing the sealing of Symbol Loading Units and allowing for post-result scrutiny of the microcontroller program, the court strikes a balance between transparency and efficiency in India’s democratic process.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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