New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on plea by 21 Opposition parties seeking direction that 50 per cent electronic voting machine (EVM) results are matched and cross-checked with VVPATs before the declaration of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 results.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also asked poll body to depute a senior officer to assist the court and posted the matter for next hearing on March 25.

The parties that approached the apex court include the Congress, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Left parties, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and others.

The poll panel was last month approached by leaders of several opposition parties seeking redressal of the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had said, “To bring transparency to election process we should go back to paper ballot but due to time constraint, we are demanding that 50 per cent of VVPATs should be counted at random and be tallied with EVMs.”

Recently, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora had hit back at political parties for expressing apprehensions on the working of EVMs and said that the machines are treated like a ‘football’. Addressing a press conference, he had said, “Sorry to say we have made EVMs a football, if result is X,EVM is good if result is Y EVM is not good as if EVM is voting. It’s you and I who are voting,so no point in going over this again.”

Adding, the CEC said, “We have been using EVMs for more than 2 decades, very strange even if you take from 2014 onwards, there was a LS poll in Delhi, there was X result, some political entity won. Then in Delhi Assembly polls, another political entity won with heavy margin. After that there were many polls. Karnataka and 5 states, everywhere results different.”

The Lok Sabha Elections 2019 are scheduled to begin from April 11. The results of 7-phase polls will be declared on May 23, the CEC announced in a press conference on March 10 at the national capital.