Quint Impact: Application Filed In SC on LS VVPAT Slip Destruction

On Thursday, 27 February, the Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) filed an application in the Supreme Court on the ‘mysterious rush and urgency’ shown by the Election Commission of India to destroy VVPAT slips used in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The application was filed based on The Quint’s report published on 8 February 2020 which exposed that EC disposed of the VVPAT slips in just four months after results were declared – in contravention of the rules prescribed under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

As per Rule 94 (b) of the Conduct of Elections, “the used or printed VVPAT slips in any election... shall be retained for one year and shall thereafter be destroyed.”

The Quint accessed the letter under RTI that was sent to all states and Union Territories' Chief Electoral Officers in September 2019 ordering them to dispose of VVPAT slips.

""VVPAT paper slips are a crucial evidence to detect possible tampering or the manipulation of the entire voting process and thus, they are indispensable for conducting an inquiry in the cases of any discrepancy."" - The application

In November 2019, the ADR filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the large number of discrepancies in votes polled and counted in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It will be almost impossible to conduct a thorough enquiry into the discrepancies if VVPAT slips are destroyed.

Also Read: EVM-VVPAT Vulnerable to Manipulation – Public Unaware & EC Silent

Tell EC to Retain Lok Sabha-Related Documents, Says Application

The application made two prayers to the Supreme Court:

  • Direct EC not to destroy or dispose of VVPAT paper slips generated in any election in the last one year and to retain the same at least for a period of one year.

  • Direct EC to retain all other documents pertaining to 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The VVPAT machine was introduced by the EC on SC’s order to assure voters that her/his vote has been cast to the candidate of her/his choice. If the VVPAT slip does not show the name of the candidate of their choice, the voter can immediately inform the Election Officer at the voting booth about the malfunctioning of the VVPAT machine.

As per the Rule of the Conduct of Elections, if there are any discrepancies in the counting of votes, VVPAT paper slips count will prevail and not EVM votes count. Then why couldn’t EC retain slips for one year?

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