New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Election Commission to introduce in a phased manner a paper trail in EVMs for the next general elections in 2014, saying it will ensure free and fair polls.
The apex court also directed the Centre to provide financial assistance for introducing Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system.
The VVPAT in EVMs will ensure "free and fair" polls and will help in "sorting out disputes", a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The court's order came on a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to the poll watchdog to ensure EVMs have a paper trail and issue a receipt to each voter.
The Election Commission had earlier told the court VVPAT was successfully and satisfactorily utilised at 21 polling stations in Nagaland during the Assembly elections in February this year.
The poll panel had also informed the bench that VVPAT can be introduced in a phased manner and cited administrative and financial reasons for it. It had said 13 lakh VVPAT machines would be needed for general elections.
The Election Commission had said approximately Rs 1500 crore would be required for procuring VVPAT and installing it at all polling booths across the country for Lok Sabha polls and there are only two state-owned companies - Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) - which manufacture the machines.
Swamy had said both BEL and ECIL are capable of producing the number of machines required for the general elections.
In VVPAT system, when a voter presses button for the candidate of his choice in the Electronic
Voting Machine(EVM), a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol will be printed and the voter can verify it.
A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their votes were cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.