New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted time till April 8 to the 21 Opposition parties seeking direction that 50 per cent EVM results be matched and cross-checked with VVPAT, to file their response on an affidavit filed by the Election Commission (EC) which had opposed the plea.

In its affidavit, the EC had raised various points.  It had said that if VVPAT slips were to be manually counted for half of the EVMs, the time taken for counting of votes will increase by “about 6 days”.

“The Election Commission of India is always open to bringing about any improvements that would further the cause of free and fair elections. Insofar as the grievances and reliefs prayed for in the instant writ petitions are concerned, these are all matters to which the Election Commission of India has applied itself, and after due studies and tests, has arrived at the conclusion that the method as presently adopted has been found to be most suitable,” it said last week.

Reports say the EC said that VVPATs aren’t standalone units and work with EVMs. The VVPAT shows the printed slip to the voter for a duration of seven seconds through a transparent window so counting of these slips will only be necessary in case of a discrepancy, the affidavit said.

Then, the EC also explained that cross-checking at least 50% votes would entail an increased number of trained personnel apart from larger counting halls.

The affidavit also states that the issues raised in the petition are not new and similar concerns raised earlier were satisfied by the body before the Supreme Court. The Court had then found the guidelines and the method of dealing with the VVPAT machines to be satisfactory and had expressed no inclination to interfere.

During an earlier hearing, the apex court had asked the EC if it will be able to implement the prayer sought in the petition filed by Opposition leaders. The poll watchdog had then reportedly said that that “was not required”.