As India hurtles towards the precipice of the 2024 general elections, a familiar ghost rears its head – the controversial issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and its accompanying paper trail, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) ho. This quasi-technical dispute has transcended electronic devices and turned into a political battleground, creating distrust and fear of technological advances and the promise of a “full-proof” electoral system encounter
Beginning of Controversy:
Ahead of the 2009 general elections, India switched from traditional voting systems to EVMs, heralding a new era of efficiency and transparency. However, whispers of suspicion, fueled by allegations of EVM tampering and lack of visible voter identification, soon took root. To address these concerns, the Election Commission of India introduced VVPAT in 2013, providing paper ballots that mirror electronic ballots despite this seemingly foolproof solution, the debate continues, motivated by several key arguments:
Arguments for 100% VVPAT:
Monitoring and tampering prevention: Proponents of 100% VVPAT counting say that it provides tangible, physical voter records, enhances integrity and reduces risks associated with the use of electronic devices. Cases of discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT figures, though statistically insignificant, are cited as evidence of possible abuse.
Public confidence and transparency: The very act of counting every VVPAT ballot builds public confidence in the electoral process, making it more transparent and accountable. This is particularly important given the recent discovery of institutional trust period.
Dealing with allegations and fears:100% VVPAT counting puts to rest allegations of EVM tampering, effectively making allegations undermining the legitimacy of the elections comm. This strengthens the foundations of Indian democracy.
Arguments against 100% VVPAT:
Procedural challenges and delays: Counting millions of fallen VVPATs at hundreds of thousands of polling stations is a huge undertaking, which could delay the declaration of elections and increase uncertainty Critics point to 2019 general elections on, with differences in some VVPATs delayed legal battles and delayed declaration They became.
Increased costs and waste of resources: Additional manpower, security measures and infrastructure required for 100% VVPAT auditing result in high financial costs. Critics say these measures could be better used to bolster existing voting systems.
Possible misinterpretation and fraud: VVPAT slip counting, especially in rural areas with low literacy rates, is prone to human error and misinterpretation Critics say this creates additional vulnerabilities, which can lead to fabricated results the inadvertent or even intentional manipulation. The legal complexity surrounding electronic voting machines (EVMs) and their accompanying paper trail the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) provides a complex puzzle in the Indian electoral landscape.
The cornerstone of this argument is Article 324 of the Constitution of India which empowers the Election Commission of India to conduct free and fair elections. This broad mandate gives the ECI considerable latitude in the way it conducts elections, including the technology it uses.
Representation of People Act, 1951: Amended in 1989, the Act empowers ECI to use EVMs. Section 61A specifically empowers the ECI to use “other devices or electronic devices specified in rules made by the Central Government … for recording votes cast at elections”.
The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961: Amended to cover EVMs and VVPATs, these rules prescribe procedures for use, counting and settlement of disputes
The debate has witnessed numerous legal demanding situations to the ECI’s selections:
Questioning the legality of EVM:Various petitions have challenged the legality of EVMs, contending that they violate the “Fundamental right” of free and fair election because of their loss of a verifiable paper path. However, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the ECI’s authority to apply EVMs so long as adequate safeguards are in area.
Mandatory 100% VVPAT counting: Several petitions have sought to make a hundred% VVPAT counting mandatory, arguing that it strengthens voter confidence and safeguards in opposition to tampering. While the Supreme Court has not mandated a hundred% counting, it has left the door open for the ECI to do not forget it within the future.
Discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT counts: Instances of discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT counts, even though statistically insignificant, have fuelled worries about the reliability of EVMs. These discrepancies have shaped the premise for election petitions, with courts considering them on a case-by using-case foundation.
The legal landscape has been set by major decisions of the Supreme Court:
Election Commission of India V. Govt. Shiv Dayal Singh Chauhan (2001): Supported the constitutionality of EVMs emphasizing the independence of ECI and the need to balance secrecy and integrity.
Indian National Congress V. Union of India (2013): Directed ECI to work with VVPAT on EVMs for greater transparency and voter confidence.
Shri Bharat Kumar Shukla V. Union of India (2019): Supported ECI’s discretion in determining the scope of VVPAT audit (indirectly or in full), stressing the importance of merit consideration.
Regardless of legal declarations, the talk keeps:
Technical vulnerabilities: Concerns about the vulnerability of EVMs to hacking and tampering. The ECI continues that EVMs are tamper-proof, however critics call for independent audits and extra complex generation.
Human Error and Procedural Errors: Difficulties may additionally get up due to the opportunity of human error and inconsistencies within the strategies used to calculate VVPAT. To mitigate those issues, ECI ought to make sure rigorous schooling and standardized methods.
Transparency and public Self-assurance: Building public Self-belief inside the electoral technique could be very essential. The ECI ought to interact actively with stakeholders, address concerns transparently and make certain proper dissemination of facts.
As India moves in the direction of the 2024 elections, the EVM-VVPAT controversy is raging. The arguments for 100% VVPAT counting stem for worries about transparency, protection and mobility. The felony environment, formed via the Constitution, major legal guidelines, and judicial precedent, presents a framework for navigating this complex trouble. Ultimately, finding a solution that preserves electoral integrity and public confidence requires sustained dialogue, technological improvement and robust prison safeguards and best then can India make sure that 2024 elections is indeed loose, fair and credible.
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer and founder of Aditya Pratap Law Offices. He practices in the realm of real estate, corporate, and criminal law. His website is adityapratap.in and his media interviews can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/@AdityaPratap/featured. Views expressed are personal.
This article has been assisted by Umang Pandey, a 3rd year law student pursuing B.A.LL.B. from Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida.