New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a review plea filed by 21 Opposition parties seeking a direction to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50 per cent of EVMs during the counting of votes in the ongoing general elections 2019. The top court ruled that there would be no increase in EVM-VVPAT verification.

The petition was signed by at least 21 Opposition parties’ leaders like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, KC Venugopal, Derek O’Brien, Sharad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra, M K Stalin, T K Rangarajan, Manoj K Jha, Farooq Abdullah, S S Reddy, Danish Ali, Ajit Singh, Mohd Badruddin Ajmal and Jitin Ram Majhi. The reports had it that opposition leaders like Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, CPI(M)’s T K Rangarajan and Nilotpal Basu and CPI’s D Raja among others were present during the hearing.

The Supreme Court on May 3 had agreed to consider the plea while the Election Commission (EC) had opposed the plea, saying it would take nearly six days to complete the counting of votes.

Opposition leaders had said in their review petition, “Till now, the credibility of EVMs was not the main issue. However, due to subsequent developments, it has been seriously called into question. The number of EVMs to be randomly checked against VVPAT deserved to be increased.”

Reportedly, the petitioners had claimed that 2% increase brought in by the court was not sufficient and would not make substantial or meaningful change in the situation.

On April 8, the apex court had directed the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs in five polling booths per assembly segment from one booth. However, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi at that point of time did not agree to the request that 50 per cent VVPAT slips of EVMs be matched, on the ground that it will require huge manpower and not be feasible in view of infrastructural difficulties.