The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to take up for hearing on priority basis Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy's plea to incorporate paper printouts in electronic voting machines or restore paper balloting system allegedly because EVMs "are not tamper proof."
"We will hear the matter on a priority basis so that it is concluded by the next parliamentary elections. That is the reason we are giving the priority," said a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi.
The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing on September 27 after hearing Swamy's submission for over an hour and asked the Election Commission to be prepared with its submission.
Arguing in person, Swamy made a fervent plea for reverting to the old paper-ballot system saying all advance countries in the world, including the USA and Japan have discarded EVMs and gone back to the paper-ballot system.
The Janata Party leader said even Japan which had been a pioneer in the launch of the EVMs was today relying on the paper-ballot system only.
He said it was only private companies across the world which are manufacturing these EVMs, which are vulnerable to hacking.
India, he said, does not indigenously manufacture EVMs and was solely dependant on importing of the machines and the microchips used in them.
Swamy claimed it is difficult and un-reliable to re-count votes using EVMs and cited the re-counting of votes in the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency, represented by Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, which he had won allegedly under controversial circumstances.
The Janata Party leader also told the bench that several modern software experts, including Hari Prasad from Hyderabad, had demonstrated that EVMs can be hacked and manipulated.
The apex court on May 7 had sought the stands of the Centre and the Election Commission of India on Swamy's plea challenging the Delhi High Court's order dismissing his plea on the issue earlier on January 17.
The high court had said, "It is difficult for this court to direct the Election Commission to have a paper trail of elections conducted through EVMs."
It, however, had suggested that the Commission could hold wider consultations with the executive, the political parties and other stake holders on the matter.
The high court had disposed of the plea saying Swamy has himself not alleged any misuse or tampering of current system but maintained that the possibility of such an incident cannot be ruled out.
Swamy had sought directions to the Election Commission that paper trail be incorporated to record the votes cast through EVMs or old system of paper ballots be brought back. He had claimed that EVMs were not tamper proof and lacked transparency.
The EC had opposed the plea, saying returning to the paper ballots would not be feasible as it would require immense expenditure as there were over 73 crore eligible voters in the country.