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SC reserves verdict on presidential reference about open ballot for Senate elections

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its decision on presidential reference seeking legal opinion to hold the Senate elections through open balloting.
The five-member SC larger bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi reserved the judgement after completion of arguments by all the parties.
During the course of proceedings, Pakistan Bar Council lawyer Mansoor Usman argued that the National Assembly elections were direct, while that of the Senate were completed through proportional representation.
The measures against corrupt practices, he said, should be taken before the elections. If the government’s argument was accepted, then Article 218 of the Constitution would be useless and if the Senate polls were held through open ballot, it would affect all elections, he added.
The CJP observed that the question before the court was only the implementation of Article 226. He asked why the electoral process was not being amended to eliminate corruption. Resolutions were passed in the Parliament to make the electoral process transparent, and the political parties were acknowledging corrupt practices in the Senate polls but no one was taking steps to eradicate the same, he added.
Lahore High Court Bar counsel Khurram Chughtai argued that the Federal Government had no authority to seek opinion from the court.
Justice Ijaz remarked that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was asleep. The ECP had not only to hold elections, but also stop corruption.
He said the court had repeatedly asked the Election Commission about the steps taken by it to curb corruption in the elections, but got no reply.
Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan said examining the vote would not end secrecy.
Justice Yahya Afridi asked whether the Supreme Court’s opinion on the reference would be final.
The attorney general replied that the government would abide by the court’s opinion. Review petitions could not be filed against any decision on the references, he added.
The ECP’s counsel requested the court to give its opinion before February 28 so the process for holding the Senate elections could be completed in time.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the real purpose was to end corrupt practices. | YouTube Channel

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.