New Delhi [India], September 9 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it will hear the writ petition and all the applications next week, with respect to the recalling of the suo motu extension of limitation keeping in view on account of the COVID-19 situation.
A bench of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, said, "List the Suo Motu writ petition and all the applications for next week."
The Supreme Court said this, after an application filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking its direction for a modification of its suo motu order related to election petitions.
The ECI, in its appeal filed before the Supreme Court, alleged that the EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails) used in the assembly polls of six states are lying unused as they are preserved due to an order extending the limitation period for filing pleas, and need to be released.
Senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) and President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Vikas Singh, appearing for the ECI, told the apex court that the entire order needs to be recalled.
Singh had earlier submitted to the Court that a large number of EVMs and VVPATs are still being preserved and need to be released.
Singh had sought that a timeline be fixed for filing election petitions relating to assembly polls of Assam, Kerala, Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Contending that these machines would be used in the upcoming elections, Singh said, "We have to maintain these EVMs and VVPAT machines and hearing is necessary as elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab are coming up."
The top court on April 27 this year while taking note of the onset of the second COVID-19 wave had relaxed the statutory period for filing petitions, including the election petitions, under the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951. It means that anybody can still file a petition challenging the election of a returned candidate and as per procedure, the poll panel is required to preserve EVMs and VVPAT machines, having evidentiary value, to put forth its views in judicial proceedings.
"The poll panel is seeking appropriate directions from this court fixing a timeline for filing of Election Petitions in the States/Union Territories of Assam, Kerala, NCT of Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, as in absence of the same, all EVMs used in these States/Union Territories are currently stuck or unable to be used/deployed for upcoming/future elections due to the order dated April 27, 2021, passed by this court," said the plea.
It said all the EVMs and VVPATs belonging to the ECI that were used in recently held assembly elections are blocked and cannot be used in future/upcoming elections and as a result of the apex court's order, the EC is unable to use a substantial number of EVMs. (ANI)