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SC wants VVPAT in EVMs for fair elections

The Supreme Court has reiterated the necessity to implement the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) to ensure 100% transparency in elections.

This is the second time the Supreme Court has directed Election Commission (EC) for the implementation of VVPAT in EVMs. Earlier in 2013, SC had directed the EC to introduce VVPAT in a phased manner for 2014 general elections. SC had observed that VVPAT will ensure free and fair polls and help in sorting out disputes. In response the EC had informed the apex court that the VVPAT can be introduced in a phased manner.

What is VVPAT?

The VVPAT system is a new initiative of the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections. In the VVPAT system, when a voter presses the button for a candidate of his choice in the electronic voting machines (EVM), a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol will be printed for the voter. It is intended as an independent verification system for EVM designed to (i) allow voters to verify that their votes are casted correctly, (ii) detect possible election fraud or malfunction and (iii) Provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
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Explained: Dispute over party symbol in Samajwadi Party

After the recent the political feud and vertical split in Samajwadi Party, the both warring factions are claiming their stakes on the party symbol, the ‘cycle’. Following this, Election Commission of India (ECI) has served notices to both factions to provide supporting documents and evidence in their favour for claiming the party symbol.

What is the legal procedure?

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the ECI to recognise political parties and allot symbols. The Paragraph 15 of the Order allows ECI to decide disputes among rival groups or factions of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.

What Paragraph 15 of the 1968 Order says?

This paragraph applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties. Under it, the ECI is the only authority to decide issues over claims of Party symbol in case of split. Even the Supreme Court in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI case (1971) had upheld its validity. However, in case of splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the ECI usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.

What was the first case decided under Para 15?

The first case was in the split in the Indian National Congress in 1969 in two factions Congress (J) led by led by Indira Gandhi and old Congress (O) led by Syndicates. The “old” Congress retained the party symbol of a pair of bullocks carrying a yoke and the breakaway faction of Indira Gandhi was given the symbol of a cow with its calf.

What considerations ECI takes in to account during such scenario?

The ECI primarily ascertains support enjoyed by a claimant within a political party in its organisational wing and in its legislative wing. First the commission examines party’s organisational wing by taking into consideration of support of office-bearers and finds out how many office-bearers, members or delegates support the rival claimants. If ECI fails to test the support strength to any faction based on support within the party organisation then it tests majority in legislative wing i.e. based on support of elected MPs and MLAs of party i.e. In case of the legislative wing, the ECI takes into consideration of majority of affidavits submitted by members for the support of group. Based on the majority support the symbol is allocated. So far, in almost all disputes decided by the EC, a clear majority of office bearers/party delegates, MPs and MLAs have supported one of the factions.

What happens when there is no certainty about the majority of either faction?

When the party is either vertically divided or it is no warring group has majority, then ECI may freeze the party symbol and allow the rival groups to register themselves with new names or add suffixes or prefixes to the party’s existing names. In case of immediate electoral purposes, ECI advise the rival groups to fight the elections in different names and on temporary symbols.

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Election Commission announces dates for assembly elections in five states

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the dates for the assembly elections in five states– Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

With the Election Commission announcement the Model code of conduct has come into effect. Counting of votes for all five states will take place on 11 March 2017.

Key facts
  • There will be single phase elections in Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab.
  • Goa (40 Seats) and Punjab (117 Seats) will go to polls on 4 February 2017 while polling in Uttarakhand for 70 seats will be held on 15 February 2017.
  • Uttar Pradesh: The biggest state in the country will go to polls in seven phases for 403 seats on 11th February, 15th February, 19th February, 23rd February, 27th February, 4th March and on 8th March 2017.
  • Manipur: The northeastern state will go to polls for 60 seats in two phases on 4th and 8th March.
  • Over 16 crore voters are eligible to vote in the five states. The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for Punjab, Uttarakhand, UP and Rs 20 lakh for Goa and Manipur.
  • ECI will focus on paid news and Press Council of India will help the commission in detection of paid news. It also has launched a large number of IT applications to facilitate voters, candidates, political parties.

 Article 324 of the Constitution: It vests authority of superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for and the conduct of elections to Parliament, State Legislature of every state and of elections to the offices of President and Vice President to the Election Commission.

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