The Supreme Court of Pakistan has reserved its opinion on the presidential reference sent by the President on the issue of holding Senate elections through open ballot.
During the hearing, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan remarked that the Election Commission was asleep and not ready to wake up. The Election Commission also has to stop corruption, not just hold elections. Asked again and again what steps have been taken to curb corruption but got no answer.
Pakistan Bar Council lawyer Usman Mansoor said that if the Senate election was held through open ballot, it would affect all elections. In fact, election means secret ballot.
Replying, Attorney General Khalid Javed said that reviewing the vote does not end secrecy. The Supreme Court did not say when it would give its opinion on the reference.
During the hearing on Thursday, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said that the role of political parties is very important all over the world. What is the use of forming political parties without discipline?
Pakistan Bar Council lawyer Mansoor Usman Awan said that the election of members of the National Assembly is direct and the election of the Senate is completed through proportional representation. Measures against corrupt practices should be taken before elections.
He said that the allegation of corrupt practice has to be separated through evidence. Allegations of corrupt practices cannot be linked to ballot papers.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the real objective is to eradicate corrupt practices. The ballot paper is a proof in itself. If money and ballot papers come to light, the Election Commission should keep a check.
Usman Mansoor said that in fact election means secret ballot, if senate election was held with open ballot then it would affect all elections. On this, the Chief Justice remarked that the question before the court is only the implementation of Article 226.
He said that everyone was also acknowledging the corrupt practice and no one was taking steps to eradicate it. Every party wants transparent elections but no one does Bismillah.
During the hearing, the ECP counsel submitted further arguments on behalf of the agency. He said that the present law allows voting against the party on which the Chief Justice said that you are the lawyer of the Election Commission why are you giving these arguments.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said that the Election Commission was asleep and not ready to wake up. The Election Commission has to not only hold elections but also stop corruption. We have repeatedly asked what steps have been taken to curb corruption but no answer has been forthcoming.
After concluding the arguments of all the parties, Attorney General Khalid Javed in reply said that reviewing the vote does not end secrecy.
He said that the reference was not political but for the interpretation of Article 226. Justice Yahya Afridi asked whether the opinion of the Supreme Court on the reference would be final. On which the Attorney General said that the government would abide by the opinion of the court. He said that requests for review of the reference could not be received.
On this, Justice Yahya Afridi asked whether such a decision would be correct which would have political implications and could not be reconsidered. The Attorney General said that the court decides after considering everything in detail.
The Chief Justice said that the court has nothing to do with politics. We will only interpret the constitution. Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said that whether he responds to this reference or not, the effects will be political.
Following the completion of Khalid Javed's reply, the court has reserved its opinion on the reference. However, it did not say how long the opinion would last.
The ECP counsel requested the court to be informed of the opinion before February 28 so that decisions could be taken accordingly in the March 3 Senate elections.
Attorney General Khalid Javed later told reporters that it was up to the court to send its opinion on the reference to the President or announce it in open court.
A presidential reference was sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the issue of holding Senate elections by open ballot, asking the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution on whether Senate elections could be held by open ballot or by secret ballot only. Only choice can be made.
During the case, the Election Commission of Pakistan has clearly informed the court that the Senate elections can be held only through secret ballot and the constitution is clear about this. If the election is to be held by open ballot, separate legislation is required. The Sindh government's lawyer has also supported the ECP's position and called for holding the election by secret ballot.
During the hearing, the court, citing various articles, sought clarification on the issue of holding elections by open ballot.
During the hearing in the case, the Attorney General took the position that various candidates were walking around with bags of notes and waiting for the court decision.