New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined Aam Aadmi Party's request to use second-generation EVMs with paper trail in the April 23 civic polls in the national capital.
Justice A.K. Pathak refused immediate relief to the ruling party, saying that "nothing can be done at the eleventh hour".
"We cannot stay the election nor pass an order to use electronic voting machines which are not there," the court said while seeking a response from the Election Commission of India and the Delhi State Election Commission by Friday, the next date of hearing.
The AAP and its candidate Mohammad Tahir Hussain have approached the High Court for using second-generation EVMs attached with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the elections to the capital's three municipal corporations.
The court's order came after State Election Commission counsel Sumeet Pushkarna opposed the plea on the ground that the MCD elections are slated for April 23 and changing all EVMs with VVPAT is not feasible in four days.
The counsel said the EVMs to be used in the civic polls are the same that were used in 2015 assembly elections, after which the AAP came to power.
"But now they have speculation that these machines are tampered with. There are three judgements that elections at this stage cannot be stalled," he added.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the AAP and Hussain, contended that the poll panel was duty-bound to use the VVPAT-linked EVMs, adding that the Supreme Court in 2013 termed the second-generation EVMs as the "safest".
Jaising said the EVMs compatible with VVPATs were used in Uttar Pradesh and Goa polls and the Election Commission of India has 13,000, apart from additional 3,000, second-generation EVMs with them.
Raising concern over the EVM security, Jaising said: "There is a demonstrable problem in Dholpur in Rajasthan -- no matter what button you press, the vote will go to the BJP."
The VVPAT is connected with EVMs and dispenses paper proof so that voters can verify that their vote has been cast correctly.
The AAP and the Congress say that the EVMs without VVPAT can be tampered with.