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SC rejects review petition for 50% VVPAT verification; PR Ramachandra Menon sworn-in as CJ of Chhattisgarh - Current Affairs

The petition was filed after the conclusion of third phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 by leaders of 21 Opposition political parties led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.The petitioners demanded verification of the VVPAT slips in at least 50 percent randomly chosen polling stations within each Assembly Constituency.

May 7, 2019 12:32 IST
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Story 1: SC rejects review petition by 21 opposition parties for 50% VVPAT verification

The Supreme Court on May 7, 2019 rejected the review petition filed by 21 opposition parties seeking 50 percent verification of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during counting of votes in Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "We are not inclined to review our order".

Earlier on April 8, 2019, the apex Court had 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 during the ongoing Indian General Elections 2019.

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.

SC directs ECI to increase random checking of VVPAT slips

Petition

The petition was filed after the conclusion of third phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 by leaders of 21 Opposition political parties led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

List of Petitioners

N Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu Desam Party)

Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party)

KC Venugopal (Indian National Congress)

Derek O Brien (All India Trinamool Congress)

Sharad Yadav (Loktantrik Janata Dal)

Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party)

Satish Chandra Mishra (Bahujan Samaj Party)

MK Stalin (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)

TK Ranga Rajan (CPI(M))

S Sudhakar Reddy (CPI)

Manoj Kumar Jha (Rashtriya Janata Dal)

Arvind Kejriwal (AAP)

Farookh Abdullah (Jammu & Kashmir National Conference)

K Danish Ali (Rashtriya Janata Dal)

Ajith Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal)

M Badrudding Ajmal (AIUDF)

Jithin Ram Manji (Hindusthani Awam Morcha)

Ashok Kumar Singh (Jharkhand Vikas Morcha)

Khorrum Anis Omar (IUML)

Kodanadram (Telengana Jana Samithi)

K G Kenye (Naga Peoples Front)

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.

The petition referred to the judgment in Dr. Subramanian Swamy vs ECI (2013) case in which it was held that VVPAT is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The parties claimed that to give meaningful effect to this judgment, at least 50 percent verification of VVPAT is required.

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.

What is VVPAT?

The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system.

The VVPAT is an independent printer system attached with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. It generates a paper slip 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.

How does VVPAT work?

Story 2: Justice PR Ramachandra Menon sworn-in as Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh HC

Justice PR Ramachandra Menon was on May 6, 2019 sworn-in as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court. The office the Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh fell vacant after the resignation of Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi following his appointment as Judicial Member in the Lokpal.

He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Anandiben Patel at Raj Bhawan Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

Menon’s name was recommended for the position of Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court by Supreme Court Collegium on April 8, 2019, following which, he was appointed for the said position by President Ram Nath Kovind.

He earlier served as a Judge in the Kerala High Court.

Justice PR Ramachandra Menon

Born on June 1, 1959, Justice PR Ramachandra Menon obtained Law degree from the Government Law College, Ernakulam, Kerala.

He enrolled as an advocate on January 8, 1983 and started practice in Labour, Insurance and Constitutional Laws at Ernakulam.

He was sworn-in as Additional Judge of High Court of Kerala on January 5, 2009.

Later on December 15, 2010, he was appointed as permanent Judge of the High Court of Kerala and has been functioning there since his elevation.

Chhattisgarh High Court

Located in Bilaspur, the Chhattisgarh High Court was established in November 2000 following the creation of the state after the reorganisation of Madhya Pradesh.

The High Court was first led by Justice RS Garg, who was appointed on interim basis.

The first permanent Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh was Justice W.A. Shishak.

The High Court has various Judges who have been elevated to Supreme Court including Justice H.L. Dattu, the former Chief Justice of India. Some of the others are Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, and Justice Navin Sinha.

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