Legislation only solution to Senate open vote: SC

AGP says govt approached apex court on Senate elections to avoid legal issues

By: News Desk
Published: 03:55 PM, 3 Feb, 2021
Legislation only solution to Senate open vote: SC
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Attorney General (AG) Khalid Jawed Khan told the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday that it was the government’s opinion that amendment to the Election Act was sufficient for holding Senate elections through the open ballot, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

He said the purpose of filing presidential reference in the apex court was to avoid legal issues in the future. “We were afraid that in case of holding Senate elections via open ballot without consulting the SC first might put question marks over the legality of these elections,” the AG informed the court.

He further said that Article 226 of the constitution did not apply to all kinds of elections. “Nobody had ever thought at the time of creation in Pakistan in 1947 that people’s representatives would sell their votes.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Yahyah Afridi and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing arguments regarding the presidential reference about Senate elections.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that people returned their representatives to the assemblies so that they could serve them, and not serve themselves.

He further said that if the opposition parties did not want to change the conventional mode of Senate elections, this implied that they wanted the sale of votes to continue.

Justice Yahya Afridi, on the occasion, remarked that the opinion given by the apex court would not be a verdict and that the government would have to legislate on the matter at all costs.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired from the attorney general as to what was stopping the government from legislating on the matter.

AG Khalid Jawed Khan will continue his remarks as the CJP adjourned the hearing of the presidential reference till Thursday (tomorrow).

In earlier hearing, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had said that if the government doesn’t withdraw the presidential reference the Supreme Court will give its advice. 

Justice Ijazul Ahsen had observed that legislation was the prerogative of the Parliament but not to interpret the law, as it was the job of the apex court. “Whether a bill is moved or not, the court is empowered to interpret the law,” Justice Ahsen said.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that to ensure transparency in the elections to the National Assembly, the Election Commission of Pakistan had examined any illegal practice if made then why could not it be done here.