Article 226 loud and clear about elections through secret ballot: CJP
Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed hearing presidential reference on Senate polls, said that Article 226 was loud and clear that all elections will be held through secret ballot, except those for electing prime minister or chief minister, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said if Article 226 was applied, elections on reserved seats would not have been possible, the TV channel reported.
A larger bench of SC headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed including Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the case.
The case hearing has been adjourned January 18 (Monday).
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan represented President Dr Arif Alvi in the reference to seek apex court’s advice on upcoming Senate elections 2021.
It is pertinent to note that Attorney General had on Dec 23 moved the 11-page reference under Article 186 of the Constitution relating to the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that every lawmaker was free to vote for the person of his choice, while Justice Ijazul Ahsan said casting vote by violating the party’s discipline was a mala fide act.
Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan argued that elections in Senate and the National Assembly were not held in the light of the constitution.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan further said that if any legislator wanted to vote against his party, he should do so out in the open while the AG was of the view that an ordinary citizen was free to vote for the person of his choice, but same was not the case with legislators voting for the Senate seats, and therefore secret ballot was not possible.
Justice Yahya Afridi questioned as to why the government was seeking opinion from the apex court? “It should approach parliament for the purpose,” he commented.
The AG replied that even if SC gave its opinion in the government’s favour, still it was the parliament that had the final say. “There are 11 cases, including that of Dual citizenship and lawmakers standing disqualified for concealing their assets, where the apex court has given its verdicts,” he reminded.
“The government has approached the SC in order to ensure transparency in voting,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government of Balochistan has also supported the idea of holding Senate elections through open ballot, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Thursday.
In its reply submitted to the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing the presidential reference seeking holding elections for the upper house of parliament through open ballot, it said the federal government had the right to amend the Election Act for the purpose.