KOCHI: The Election Commission of India has informed the Kerala High Court that a decision regarding the use of VVPAT slips in all booths of the Chengannur constituency will be announced only when the by-election date is declared.
The ECI filed the statement in response to a petition by P R Rajive Kumar of Chengannur seeking a directive to the ECI to attach VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines with the Electronic Voting Machines to be used in the Chengannur by-election. VVPAT is an independent verification printer machine attached to electronic voting machines. In order to ensure a true, fair and correct result, ballot system should be used, the petitioner said.
The ECI informed the seat became vacant on January 14 and the by-election to fill the vacancy is yet to be announced by the ECI. In terms of the provisions contained under Sections 150 and 151 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the ECI has to hold a by-election for filling the casual vacancy within a period of six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy.
Hence, the petition is premature. The High Court had earlier declined to entertain a similar petition citing a Supreme Court order. The SC had given discretion to the ECI to choose the place and area to introduce VVPAT in gradual stages or geographically in a phased manner.