The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to introduce in a phased manner the paper trail in EVMs in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections saying "it is an indispensable requirement of free, fair and transparent" polls which will restore confidence of the voters.
The apex court, which directed the Centre to provide financial assistance to the EC for introduction Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail system with the EVMs, said it will "ensure the accuracy of the voting system" and also help in "manual counting of votes in case of dispute."
"The 'paper trail' is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The confidence of voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with introduction of the paper trail," it said.
"EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system. With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in democratic system," the bench said.
"VVPAT is a system of printing paper trail when the voter casts his vote, in addition to the electronic record of the ballot, for the purpose of verification of his choice of candidate and also for manual counting of votes in case of dispute," a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said.
The bench asked the Election Commission to introduce VVPAT in EVMs in gradual stages or geographical-wise in the 2014 general elections.
While asking the Centre to provide financial assistance, the bench noted the submissions made by the EC in its affidavit that it has decided to increase the use of VVPAT units in a phased manner and has already written to the Ministry of Law and Justice to issue administrative and financial sanction for procurement of 20,000 units of VVPAT (10,000 each from M/s BEL and M/s ECIL) costing Rs 38.01 crore.
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters