Electoral Reforms In India

[op-ed snap] When the big guys fightMains Onlyop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : nothing much

Mains level : Opposition Parties' mistrust over EVMs is not a good precedent for democratic setup.


CONTEXT

ON the eve of counting, the Opposition demonstrated its mistrust of the electoral process yet again.

Mistrust of EVMs

  • In a memorandum, several top leaders urged the Election Commission (EC) to match VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) slips with EVMs in five polling stations per Assembly segment before going ahead with the counting of votes.
  • Their argument: verifying VVPATs beforehand would give poll officers a chance to prevent discrepancies.
  • They wanted 100 per cent matching in all polling booths of an Assembly constituency if even one discrepancy was reported during sample checks. However, the EC decided to stick to the procedure of counting first and conducting VVPAT verification later.

Supreme Court’s Judgement

  • A fortnight ago, the Supreme Court had rejected a review petition by 21 leaders of Opposition parties demanding that the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs should be raised to at least 25 per cent as against the present 2 per cent.
  • But the apex court refused to modify its April 8 order directing the EC to increase the number for random tallying from one to five polling booths per Assembly segment in the parliamentary polls.
  • This fair arrangement should have been acceptable to all, but Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu and others have continued to fuel suspicion on the pretext of seeking greater transparency and confidence-building in the EVM system.

Conclusion

  • It’s ironical that the Opposition parties have submitted themselves to the humongous poll exercise over the past month and a half but at the same time missed no opportunity to question its reliability.
  • They have also repeatedly cast aspersions on the functioning of the EC.
  • Indeed, the poll conductor has done itself no favour by first delaying action on complaints against PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah and then, after being pulled up by the Supreme Court, disposing of the petitions with undue haste.
  • The rapid-fire clean chits were in stark contrast to the assertiveness shown by TN Seshan and JM Lyngdoh when they were at the helm.
  • Warts and all, the EC should have the last word on the conduct of the elections.
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