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SC rejects Opposition plea for increasing VVPAT matching of EVMs




In a briefing that lasted less than a minute, as per media reports, the Supreme Court (SC) today (Tuesday, May 7) rejected a review petition filed by 21 Opposition parties urging it to direct the Election Commission (EC) to cross-check at least 50% votes using Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi requested the court to increase random matching of votes of electronic voting machines (EVM) with VVPAT to 25% votes, saying the court had accepted the Opposition’s submissions on principle.

“We are not inclined to review our order,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was reported to have said.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Communist Party of India leader D Raja were reportedly present in the court for the hearing.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for petitioners, said, “We bow down to the court order which has dismissed our petition. This is an all-India political campaign to make the electorate aware of the issue at hand… The EC has got no guidelines in case either of the machines go bad.”

A delegation led by Naidu had urged the top court to review its last month order to increase matching of VVPAT slips from one randomly selected EVM in every assembly segment of a Lok Sabha constituency to five. The court had said this practice would ensure the “greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction” in the election process.

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The parties had sought a review of this order as it only raised the random verification from 0.44 to a “mere 2 per cent”. They claimed this “will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order”.

Appearing for the Opposition parties, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi urged the court to raise the VVPAT verification with EVMS to at least 25%.

The EC had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that verification of 50% of votes would delay the announcement of results by six days. Votes will be counted on May 23.

The Opposition parties moved Court after reports of defective EVMs emerged after the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections. In some cases, it was reported, voters would cast their vote for a party but the EVM would record their vote for another party.

Even in the fifth phase of voting yesterday, several cases of malfunctioning of EVMs were reported from Bihar, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Moreover, in Bihar, EVMs and VVPAT machines were recovered from a hotel in Muzaffarpur even when polling was under way yesterday. According to a report in The Hindustan Times, District Magistrate Alok Ranjan Ghosh said that the machines recovered from the hotel were reserved machines that were to be used in case any faulty machines needed to be replaced. Ghosh said a departmental inquiry would be conducted into the incident since unloading the machines in the hotel is against rules.

Opposition parties have raised doubts about the credibility of electronic voting machines several times in the last two years. However, the EC has repeatedly denied allegations that the machines can be tampered with.

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In a press conference in April, several Opposition leaders had brought up some of their concerns about the voting machines. Naidu had said instances of EVM “malfunctioning and selective manipulation” of the machines were reported in the first three phases of polling in his state, Kerala, Goa and Uttar Pradesh. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had said that while people are in a mood for a change in the government at the Centre and the state, “Our only worry is someone misusing this technology to manipulate elections…Our worry is manipulation through these machines [EVMs].”

The parties that approached the court include the Congress, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Derek O’Brien for the Trinamool Congress, Farooq Abdullah for the National Conference, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.


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Dust storm, light rain expected in Delhi-NCR today, heatwave conditions to abate

IMD claimed in a tweet that Thunderstorm dust with light to moderate intensity rain and gusty winds with speed of 30-50 km/hr would occur over and adjoining areas of many places of Delhi, North Delhi, North East Delhi, North west Delhi, West Delhi, Central Delhi, East delhi and NCR( Loni Dehat, Hindon AF station, Ghaziabad, Indrapuram, Chapraula) Sonipat, Rohtak, Kharkhoda (Haryana) Baraut, Bagpat, Meerut, Khekra, Modinagar, Kithor , Garhmukhteshwar, Pilakhua, Hapur ,Gulaoti ,Siyana ,Sikandrabad , Bulandshahr ,  Jahangirabad (UP)



Dust storm, light rain expected in Delhi-NCR today, heatwave conditions to abate

On Wednesday, a dust storm with light to moderate rain is expected in numerous locations in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). The India Meteorogical Department (IMD) stated the city’s maximum and minimum temperatures are predicted to be in the range of 40 and 25, respectively.

The IMD tweeted an advisory that thunderstorms, dust with light to moderate intensity rain and gusty winds with speed of 30-50 km/hr would occur over and adjoining areas of many places of Delhi, North Delhi, North East Delhi, North West Delhi, West Delhi, Central Delhi, East Delhi and NCR (Loni Dehat, Hindon AF station, Ghaziabad, Indirapuram, Chapraula) Sonipat, Rohtak, Kharkhoda (Haryana), Baraut, Bagpat, Meerut, Khekra, Modinagar, Kithor, Garhmukhteshwar, Pilakhua, Hapur, Gulaoti, Siyana, Sikandrabad, Bulandshahr, Jahangirabad (UP).

For the next two hours, light to moderate intermittent rain is expected over and near Adampur, Hissar, Hansi, and Meham (Haryana).

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On Thursday, May 18, light rain is predicted for in Delhi based on the seven-day prediction for the city. The sky will mainly be cloudy, with the potential of a light  rain or drizzle, according to the weather office.

The air quality will continue to be deteriorated in the city after strong winds with dust swept across the Delhi-NCR on Tuesday. Following this, visibility had reduced to 1000 metres. Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of regional forecasting centre, said the dry atmosphere is one of the reasons for the dust storms.

Following Tuesday’s severe winds and dust storm that blasted across the Delhi-NCR, the city’s air quality had taken an alarming dip.

The monsoons, which are awaited across India, are likely to make landfall in Kerala on June 4. Usually, the monsoon arrives on May 31 or June 1 but the delay will be made up as the phenomenon progresses on its south-west to north-east arc. With extreme temperatures right from a cold sytart to May to dust-laden winds in mid-May, the weather in the country is paying the price for accelerating climate change.

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Security lapse at Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Patiala home, says it will not deter him from raising his voice against Punjab

After his release from jail, he slammed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for its law and order in the state.



Navjot Singh Sidhu

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has filed a complaint with the Punjab Police after he spotted a suspicious person wrapped in a grey blanket on his terrace. He alleged a security lapse at his Patiala home. He couldn’t catch him as he fled after his servant raised an alarm.

Taking to Twitter, Sidhu said, Today on the terrace of his residence an unknown suspicious character wrapped in a grey blanket was noticed around 7:00 pm, the moment his servant went out raised the alarm, and called for help, he immediately ran and escaped.

The 59-year-old further said that he has spoken to DGP Punjab Police and has also informed SSP Patiala. He said the security lapse will not deter him from raising his voice for Punjab.

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Punjab Police registered a case in this matter. According to the reports, the Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police Varun Sharma visited his residence after the complaint and is currently investigating the matter. The CCTV footage of the area is also being scanned, reports state.

Cricketer-turned-politician came out of the Patiala Central Jail on April 1 after serving nearly 10 months in a 1988 road rage case. After his release from jail, he slammed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for its law and order in the state.

He said Democracy is in chains. Punjab is the shield of this country. When dictatorship came in this country, a revolution also came, led by Rahul Gandhi.

Sidhu also slammed the Mann government over the pruning of security of slain singer Sidhu Moosewala and also making it public.

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Air India Delhi-San Francisco flight suffers tech glitch before take-off, returns to stand

The airline has not given any official statement in this matter.



Air India Flight

Air India flight which was en route to San Francisco from Delhi on Monday had to be returned to the stand because of a technical glitch. The San Francisco-bound flight suffered a tech issue before take off.

According to the reports, the aircraft which was carrying over 200 passengers from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) had to be replaced with another aircraft. Later, the passengers were accommodated in another aircraft.

The airline has not given any official statement in this matter.

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Earlier today, another Air India incident occurred where a London-bound flight returned to Delhi’s IGI airport after a mid-air brawl between an unruly passenger and the flight’s cabin crew.

A brawl ensued between a passenger and the crew members shortly after it departed from the airport at around 6:35 am. The onboard ruckus forced the plane to turn around and return to Delhi again where the raucous passenger was deboarded and handed over to the police at the airport.

Air India apologized to the passengers on the affected Delhi-London flight for the delay and inconvenience caused to them due to the incident and assured them that efforts will be made to ensure such incidents do not occur in the future.

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