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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Wednesday also filed application to become party to the proceedings on the Presidential Reference on the Senate elections.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz, and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the reference regarding holding of the Senate election either through “secret ballot” or “open ballot”.

At the onset of the hearing, Senator Raza Rabbani apprised that the PPP has also filed Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA) to become part of the reference proceedings that the Senate elections are under constitution.

Senate elections as per Article 226 of Constitution should be held through secret ballot, he said.

The chief justice asked from Raza Rabbani did he not remember the speech of late Benazir Bhutto (BB) that the Senate elections should be held through open ballot.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said the BB in so many occasions and even the Charter of Democracy in categorical term stated Senate polls be held through open ballot.

“You have to stand by the principle of your leader,” the CJP told Raza Rabbani. However, the PPP senator contended that there was also 18th constitutional amendment.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan referred the apex court judgments that the political parties are the linchpin for parliamentary form of democracy and that the people vote parties on the basis of their manifesto.

The chief justice remarked really the people vote for programmes (manifesto) of the political parties or the personalities.

The AGP said in freedom movement very few people were aware of the Muslim League but they voted the party because of the charismatic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam.

During the proceeding, Justice Umar Ata Bandial noted that elections of the National Assembly speaker and the deputy speaker are held under the Rules, and not under the constitution.

He asked the attorney general that though you call these elections under the Constitution but they are not as the elections are conducted under the Rules.

Khalid Jawed argued that there is double responsibility on the electors of Senate polls as they represent the voters of their constituency and the party that had given them tickets. He said if an MNA or MPA gives vote to other party, and says he is doing it due to conscience then he should do it openly instead of secretly.

The chief justice stated: “Its ok but we would stick to the legal principles instead of the general.”

Justice Bandial observed that Article 222 of Constitution caters all the concern related to the elections that are held under the laws and not the constitution.

He said all the elections under Article 226 are through secret ballot.

The elections of the National Assembly are specified in the constitution and not the Senate.

Justice Ijaz asked the attorney general that you wanted to say that the National Assembly election is under the laws, but there is constitutional guarantee, but for the Senate election it is not.

He questioned that the parliamentarians who give vote to other party surreptitiously are dishonest.

The attorney general replied: “I am not saying they are dishonest, but saying they should do it openly.”

He argued that the Supreme Court has disqualified people on the ground of fake degrees, bank or utility bills defaulters and providing false affidavit about dual nationality.

The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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