Lawmaker voting against party lines should do it openly: AGP
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Wednesday asked Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) as to whether people voted for a party or for its manifesto, the latter replied that it was the charismatic personality of a party leader that people voted for, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The CJP made these remarks during the hearing of a presidential reference on holding Senate elections via open ballot.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by the CJP, is hearing the presidential reference.
“It was Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s personality that had impressed people,” AGP Khalid Jawed Khan said, and added as a matter of principle people should vote both for the party and its manifesto.
The chief justice asked as to what was charismatic about Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). “Did people vote for the party in 2018 elections merely because they were impressed by party leader Imran Khan’s personality or dressing?” he inquired.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that it was the party, and not any individual, that people voted for.
The attorney general replied that when former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi had imposed emergency in the country, the Indian people rejected her.
When Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked Khalid Jawed Khan as to whether he thought those voting against party lines were dishonest, Khan replied that he could not call somebody honest or dishonest. “However, the legislator casting his vote against the party line at least should have the courage to do this out in open,” he said, and added no legal action could be taken against such a lawmaker. “But, it is falling in the eyes of the electorate that is the real failure for a people’s representative,” the attorney general argued.
He further said that experts were of the view that in case Senate elections were held via open ballot, its chairman would also be elected in a similar fashion.
The attorney general said that mode of election of Senate chairman was given in the constitution, and if that election was also to be held through open ballot, constitutional amendment would be required.
He further said that there was also mention of political parties in the constitution. “But these parties were regulated according to the rules,” the AGP said, and added, “The mere fact that political parties had been mentioned in the constitution does not mean that the constitution lays down how they are to be formed.”
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the procedure of elections for the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker had been given in the rules. “Does this imply that elections for these two positions should be held as per rules, and not the constitution,” he asked.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan replied that elections for the speaker and the deputy speaker were not held under the auspices of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
He prayed to the apex court to declare that election for the Senate chairman was not held as per the constitution. “If this learned court gives its opinion on election for the Senate chairman, the government will hold it via open ballot,” he said, and added that the practice of purchase of votes should now come to an end.
The AGP reminded that the Supreme Court had declared bank and utility bills’ defaulters ineligible for holding public offices. “And those holding fake degrees were also declared unfit by the apex court,” he added.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan will continue his arguments after the CJP Gulzar Ahmed adjourned hearing of the reference till Thursday.