Saturday Feb 27, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan will issue its verdict on a presidential ordinance seeking an open ballot in the upcoming Senate elections on Monday, sources told Geo News on Saturday.
The top court had reserved its decision on the matter on Thursday. A day prior to that, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had noted that the parliament is the forum that must decide the method of voting for Senate elections, including the degree of secrecy to be allowed.
According to Geo News correspondent Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui, sources said that lawyers for both sides were sent messages regarding the date being fixed for Monday.
He said that lawyer Hasan Irfan had shared a text message stating that the reference has been fixed for Monday "and since the verdict was reserved on Thursday, it is likely it will be pronounced on Monday".
When asked whether the opinion will be announced in an open court, he recalled that the verdict of the Hasba Bill, for which a presidential reference had been filed, was announced in open court.
The government had approached the Supreme Court seeking its opinion on the use of open balloting in Senate elections in a bid to ensure more transparency in the voting process.
Senators have in past elections been accused of engaging in "horse-trading", with 20 PTI members even dismissed from the party after the 2018 elections, and thus the government seeks to put an end to the practice.
The Opposition parties, however, have been protesting the move, especially after the government brought in a presidential ordinance that paves the way for open balloting in the upcoming Senate elections.
They have said that such changes can only be brought about constitutionally and thus the parliament should have been taken into confidence before such a decision.
The reference, filed by the government in the Supreme Court, says that the president has sought the apex court's opinion on whether the condition of holding a secret ballot referred to in Article 226 of the Constitution is applicable only for the elections held under the Constitution, such as the election to the office of president, speakers and deputy speakers of the Parliament and provincial assemblies and "not to other elections, such as the election for the members of Senate" held under the Elections Act 2017 enacted to pursuant to Article 222 read with Entry 41 (1) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution "which may be held by way of secret or open ballot" as provided for in the Act.
According to the government, the nature of the elections and the way it is conducted has not been clearly mentioned in the Constitution.