The Election Commission on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to grant urgent hearing on its plea alleging EVMs (electronic voting machines) and VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines used in polls of six states are currently stuck and cannot be used for future elections.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the poll panel, submitted that a large number of EVMs and VVPAT machines are still being preserved and need to be released.
Submitting that they are preserved due to an order extending the limitation period for filing pleas, which includes election petitions, the poll body sought that a timeline be fixed for filing election petitions in connection with polls held in Assam, Kerala, Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
"We have to maintain these EVMs and VVPAT machines and hearing is necessary as elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Punjab are coming up," Singh said.
At this, a bench, headed by chief justice NV Ramana and comprising justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna, said: "Alright, we will fix it next week."
The top court on 27th April, taking into account the onset of second COVID wave, had relaxed the statutory period for filing petitions, including the election petitions, under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
"As a result of the aforementioned statutory provisions/rules, the relevant instructions issued by the Election Commission of India and the Order dated April 27, 2021 passed by this Hon'ble Court, the Election Commission of India is unable to use a substantial number of EVMs," said the EC's plea.
The plea further added that it is a cause for concern as the poll body is scheduled to conduct Assembly elections in states like Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh next year. "All the EVMs and VVPATs belonging to the Election Commission of India that were used in recently held Assembly Elections are blocked and cannot be used in future/upcoming elections," it said.
The poll body gave the numbers of EVMs and VVPAT machines used in these Assembly polls in six states.
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