The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea moved by Anil Kumar, Delhi Congress leader regarding the approach and procedure adopted by the Chief Electoral Officer, during the preparations and conduct of First-Level Checking (FLC) of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) intended for use in the upcoming General Elections to the Lok Sabha, scheduled to be held in 2024.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula in an order passed on August 29, 2023, stated that “The petition, in our considered view, lacks substantive ground. Consequently, the Court is not inclined to accede to the relief sought by the Petitioner. For the foregoing reasons, the present petition is dismissed”.
The bench also observed that the petitioner’s notion that re-convening the FLC would not lead to any time loss is a perspective that the Court finds hard to accept. The ECI operates on strict timelines. Delays can potentially jeopardize the entire electoral process.
Ultimately, the aim of the FLC and the entire electoral process is to serve the public and ensure their trust in the democratic process. The safeguards and checks embedded in the guidelines are sufficient to ensure the integrity of the FLC process.
The inclusion of political representatives in sealing the EVMs is a significant step towards mutual accountability. Every recognized political party was given an equal opportunity to be a part of the process, said the Bench.

Anil Kumar through through Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid submitted that the approach of the election commission and others appears to be covert and lacks transparency. Absent the crucial details concerning the EVMs and VVPATs that were being tested, the role of political stakeholders was reduced to being mere observers of the process, thereby casting doubts over the integrity of the entire electoral process.
In the spirit of transparency, it is essential that all stakeholders are informed of the particulars of EVMs and VVPATs so that they can effectively monitor and verify the machines during the FLC.
The plea further stated that the petitioner approached the Chief Electoral Officer and other respondents on 3rd August 2023, requesting them to terminate the ongoing FLC, highlighting the discrepancy in the entire FLC process. In response, the Chief Electoral Officer disagreed with Petitioner’s allegations and refused to entertain his request.
Sukumar Pattjoshi, Senior Counsel representing the respondents, argued that the FLC process strictly adhered to the extant norms, including the ECI’s Instructions on FLC, as revised from time to time.
The Petitioner as well as other eligible stakeholders were given adequate notice for participation in the FLC process. However, for reasons best known to the Petitioner’s side, they opted not to delegate their representatives and submitted the Sr Lawyer Sukumar Pattjoshi.
The lawyer also emphasised that the FLC process for EVMs and VVPATs has been finalized in three states Kerala, Jharkhand and Delhi, and the procedure is in progress for another five states. In Delhi alone, a total of 42,000 ballot machines and 23,000 VVPATs have been checked. The directions proposed by the Petitioner, if granted, could potentially derail the pre-fixed election schedule.
The FLC is a meticulous procedure, designed to uphold transparency, integrity, and security of the electronic voting system. The process is executed by certified engineers from Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited and encompasses several vital steps including the initial clearance of the machines by officials designated by the DEO, a comprehensive visual inspection conducted by authorized engineers from BEL/ECIL, rigorous functionality tests using the pre-first level checking unit by field engineers and symbol uploading in VVPATs through the symbol loading unit by BEL/ECIL’s authorized engineers for mock polling, noted the bench. (ANI)