Current Affairs 8 April 2019 Digest 3: SC directs ECI to increase checking of VVPAT slips; Battle of Kangla Tongbi
The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to increase the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one booth per assembly to five in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for better voter confidence and credibility of electoral process.
Story1: SC directs ECI to increase random checking of VVPAT slips
The Supreme Court on April 8, 2019 directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to increase the random checking of VVPAT slips from 1 EVM to 5 EVMs in each assembly of a parliamentary constituency in Lok Sabha Elections 2019.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said that the objective behind the move is to ensure a higher degree of accuracy and conduct free and fair elections.
However, the bench did not agree to the request of petitioners to match the VVPAT slips of 50 percent EVMs as it would require huge manpower and is not feasible due to infrastructural difficulties.
What is VVPAT?
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) is a paper slip generated by the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) every time a voter casts his vote, recording the party to whom the vote was made. The VVPAT slip is kept in a sealed cover.
VVPAT slip counting takes place in the VVPAT counting booths under the close monitoring of the returning officer and direct oversight of the observer.
The Apex Court gave this direction after hearing a petition filed by leaders of 21 Opposition political parties led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
The petitioners were demanding counting and cross verification of the VVPAT slips in at least 50 percent randomly chosen polling stations within each Assembly Constituency.
The petitioners also challenged the decision of the Election Commission to verify VVPAT of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency.
Election Commission’s response
In a response to this matter, the Election Commission filed counter-affidavit citing logistical difficulties in carrying out 50 percent verification of VVPAT. The commission said that the verification would delay the announcement of results by at least 6 days.
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Story 2: 75th anniversary of Battle of Kangla Tongbi commemorated
The Platinum Jubilee of the Battle of Kangla Tongbi, also known as Battle of Imphal, was commemorated on April 7, 2019 by the Army Ordnance Corps at Kangla Tongbi War Memorial near Imphal, Manipur.
The 75th anniversary celebrations honoured the martyrs of Ordnance Personnel of 221 Advance Ordnance Depot who made their supreme sacrifice during the World War-II on the night of April 6/7, 1944.
The Battle of Imphal or Kangla Tongbi is referred to as one of the bloodiest battles of World War-II.
Battle of Kangla Tongbi
• The Battle of Kangla Tongbi was fought during March 8 to July 3, 1944 by the Ordnance personnel of 221 Advance Ordnance Depot (AOD) on the night of April 6-7, 1944 against the Japanese aiming to capture the logistics base of the allied forces.
• Japanese forces had planned to capture Imphal and the surrounding areas. After establishing themselves firmly on the main Kohima-Manipur highway, they advanced towards Kangla Tongbi.
• However at Kangla Tongbi, Ordnance personnel of 221 AOD had put up stiff resistance against the Japanese.
• The position of 221 AOD was not at all safe from a tactical point of view; it was exposed to the enemy from all sides.
• Major Boyd, the Deputy Chief of Ordnance Officer (DCOO) was made in charge of the operations for defence of the 221 Advance Ordnance Depot.
• On the night of Apr 6/7, 1944, the Japanese mounted a heavy attack on the Depot, rushing into a deep nallah which was used as a covered approach to the Depot. However to their shock, the Bren Gun Section, hidden in a well camouflaged bunker placed by the Depot, opened fire.
• This shook the enemy and forced the Japanese to withdraw leaving many dead. It is estimated that 5000 soldiers belonging to Indian National Army, 5000 to British Commonwealth Force and 30000 to Japanese Army sacrificed their lives.
• The Bren Gun Section was manned by Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh.
• For this act of gallantry, Major Boyd was awarded the Military Cross (MC), and Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh was honoured with the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM).