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Delhi municipal polls: Delhi High Court asks SEC why EVMs with VVPAT can’t be used

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The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the State Election Commission (SEC) why Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) cannot be used for civic polls in Delhi. A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli has given time to the SEC’s advocates to seek instruction in this regard.

The petition by the Aam Aadmi Party has sought direction to SEC, Delhi to conduct the Delhi Municipal Election 2022 using EVMs with VVPAT. Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, who was appearing on behalf of AAP, suggested the SEC could borrow the EVM machines with VVPAT from the Election Commission of India as assembly elections have concluded in 5 states recently.

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“The EVMs without VVPAT machines make it almost impossible to ascertain the accuracy of the machines and rule out any tampering,” stated the petition.

The petition has claimed that the use of the old EVMs without VVPAT are in contravention of the express directions issued by the Supreme Court in Subramanian Swamy v. Election Commission of India, which recognized that the incorporation and implementation of a system of paper trail in EVMs is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections.

In its plea, AAP stated the Election Commission of India cannot escape from its responsibility in the free and fair conduct of Delhi Municipal Elections. After all, the State Election Commission, Delhi is holding the municipal elections with such EVMs as are provided by the ECI. In the Impugned Order, the State Election Commission has stated unambiguously that it is holding elections with EVMs provided by the ECI.

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The SEC on Wednesday had clarified that the delay in the municipal elections was due to a letter received from Centre, whereby the watchdog was informed about a possible unification of the three municipal bodies. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal criticized the SEC for bowing to the Centre’s pressure.

The next date of hearing is March 22, 2022.

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