The Supreme Court rejected on Friday a Congress petition that had sought directions to the Election Commission to match 25 per cent of all EVM ballots with voter slips printed by Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines used in the Gujarat Assembly elections. Counting of votes will be taken up in the state on Monday.A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra found no merit in the plea by Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal who represented the Congress.The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, observed that it could not interfere with the poll panel’s exercise of power. Electoral process in a democracy is of utmost importance and could not be interfered with to simply allay apprehensions of a party, the bench noted.Singhvi said that plea was not against EVMs per se. “…but now that you have VVPAT with all machines, we want the sampling of voting on EVMs with the VVPAt trail be done in at least 10-15% cases if not 25%.”The top court’s move comes a day after the Congress accused the poll panel of being the “puppet” of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). A day before the final phase of polling in Gujarat, the Election Commission cracked the whip on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and certain television channels on Wednesday. They had aired his interviews even after the end of campaigning.The BJP and the Congress traded charges against each other for trying to influence the voters in the mandatory no-campaign period.Within hours of the filing of three complaints by the BJP, the EC served a showcase notice to Rahul and ordered FIR against certain Gujarati television channels.The EC asked Rahul to explain by December 18 why he violated the poll code of no campaign within 48 hours of the conclusion of the final day of polling.The EC also instructed the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to stop the display of such matter in districts going to the polls on December 14.Following the EC’s step, the Congress reacted sharply and called it partisan. The party demanded from the EC that an FIR be filed against BJP leaders. At the EC’s doorstep, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala described it as an attempt to strangle the press.”In 2014 Mr Modi had given a television interview just a day before the polling, and on the day of polling, he had even displayed the BJP symbol, but EC did not act then. On December 8, a day before the first phase, the BJP finance minister released the manifesto but EC did not issue a show cause,” he said.In his first interview, Rahul said the “BJP is not scared of him but of the voice of Gujarat.””In the last three months, I have just raised the voice of Gujarat. They are not scared of me. They are scared of the voice of Gujarat. This election is not about Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. This is about the voice of Gujarat,” Rahul told TV channels.He also accused the BJP of distorting his image by putting huge money.”There was no (image) makeover. BJP workers used money to distort the reality of Rahul Gandhi… a lot of money was put into this,” said Rahul.
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