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Pakistan

Constitution does not mention procedure to hold Senate election, SC tells AGP

  • Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that articles 53 and 60 don’t even mention if the elections should be held through an open or secret ballot
  • Justice Yahya Afridi said why the federal government would not approach parliament to have the method of Senate elections changed
Published January 13, 2021

(Karachi) The Supreme Court has stated that the country's Constitution does not mention the procedure to hold Senate elections, local media reported on Wednesday.

The five-member larger bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, was hearing the presidential reference on holding an open ballot for the upcoming Senate elections.

During proceedings, the Attorney General (AGP) said the Senate chairperson and National Assembly speaker are elected through secret voting under Article 266. He said an elected parliament is supposed to hold elections for the speaker after coming into power.

He told the court that Article 60 of the Constitution mentions the election of the Senate chairperson, and Article 53 focuses on the election of the speaker of the National Assembly.

"The Constitution does not mention the procedure of Senate polls," remarked Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that articles 53 and 60 don’t even mention if the elections should be held through an open or secret ballot. He said that if an MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) wants to vote as per his conscience then he can stand up and vote, and face the consequences.

The AGP replied that MPAs are not free to give vote in Senate elections and are also bound to follow party policy.

Justice Yahya Afridi said why the federal government would not approach parliament to have the method of Senate elections changed. "Your arguments are based on morality but the issue is political," Justice Afridi said.

Later, the top court adjourned the hearing till January 14 (Thursday).

The federal government decided to hold Senate elections in February and invoke advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on open voting for the polls. The decision was taken by the cabinet with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.

The premier said legal reforms regarding the elections were meant only to make the entire process transparent and the doors were open for all political parties for talks in this respect.

The elections are to be held for 52 seats of the upper house because as many members of the 104-member Senate will retire on March 11.

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