NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday reserved its verdict on pleas of Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot alleging duplication of names in the voters' lists of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and seeking random verification of VVPAT machines in the upcoming elections in these states.
A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan concluded the hearing during which senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress leaders and Vikas Singh, counsel for the Election Commission of India (ECI), traded charges.
Singh said attempts have been made to malign important constitutional institution of Election Commission and get a favourable order by fabricating documents by alleging discrepancies in voters' lists.
"I stand by what I had said earlier," the senior lawyer said, adding that the poll panel had taken note of the allegations of the Congress party and undertaken corrective measures with regard to discrepancies in the voters' list which was evident from EC's communication of June 8 this year.
Despite this, the Congress party alleged discrepancies in their petition in September and this was a clear attempt to malign the institution, he said, adding that the leaders have "casually filed something" to "malign" and "denigrate" the poll panel.
Sibal strongly rebutted the submissions of the poll panel and referred to alleged discrepancies and duplication in the voters' list and referred to the illustrations of four assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh.
He gave an illustration and said 36 voters have different details, but their photographs are same and this assumed significance in the backdrop that 60 lakh fake voters have been found in Madhya Pradesh alone and moreover, 24 lakhs names have been deleted from the list by the poll panel.
Sibal said the free and fair election is the "essence of democracy".
The plea filed by Nath through advocate Varun Chopra has said that directions should be issued to publish the voters' list in a "text format as per rules", instead of PDF format and expeditious decisions taken on all complaints before its final publication.
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, in the plea, has also said that a direction should be issued to the poll panel to randomly verify VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) slips with EVM votes at 10 per cent of randomly selected polling stations in every constituency.
On September 18, the poll panel in its affidavit had justified providing the draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without any pictures of voters and had said that it was done to prevent manipulation of the electors' data.
It had sought dismissal of the petition filed by Nath alleging duplication of names in the voters' list as "not maintainable", "completely frivolous" and "an abuse of the process of court".
Earlier, the top court had agreed to examine the pleas of Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot alleging duplication of names in the voters' lists of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and had sought response of the ECI and state poll panels of both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Senior lawyer Vivek Tankha, appearing for the leaders, had said that directions should be issued to publish the voters' list in a "text format as per rules" and expeditious decisions be taken on complaints of duplication of voters' lists before their final publication.
It was alleged that as per a survey, in Madhya Pradesh there were over 60 lakh fake voters and similarly, in Rajasthan, there were over 41 lakh duplicate voters.
In Rajasthan, the poll panels have added 71 lakh, new voters, the plea said, adding that directions be given to remove inconsistencies and conduct free and fair elections.