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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has constituted a five-judge larger bench to commence the hearing on a presidential reference seeking the court’s opinion whether ‘open ballot’ for Senate elections would help acknowledge the respect of choice and desire of the citizen voters on Monday.

The five-member larger bench would be headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi.

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan would represent President Dr Arif Alvi.

On December 23, 2020 President Arif Alvi, after approving the proposal of the prime minister, had filed a 11-page reference in the Supreme Court under Article 186 of the Constitution relating to the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and sought its opinion on holding the upcoming elections for the upper house of the Parliament through open ballot and show of hands.

On previous hearing of the case, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan had asked why signatories to the Charter of Democracy (CoD) in their vow to remove distortions in the Constitution failed to do away with the menace of horse trading in elections while adopting the 18th amendment.

“Why the two major political parties as well as the co-author of the CoD, who is also around, did nothing to do away with this while adopting the 18th constitutional amendment through which over 100 amendments were introduced in the green book,” the AGP added.

The AGP argued that the federal government was making efforts to plug the menace of horse trading and vote buying but the political opponents were resisting the same.

The AGP while referring to the Senate elections in March said a market would be set up and horses would be sold in less than a month.

He said CoD was signed in 2006 between two former prime ministers. But instead of making efforts for realisation of the commitment, the nation was being told that the government was blowing hot and cold, he added.

The AGP said except for mentioning the name of the voter at the back of the ballot, the entire process of the elections will remain the same in the Senate elections in case the elections were held through open ballot. He said the open ballot was for the sake of transparency.

The AGP would continue his arguments on Monday.

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