Treasure Magazine

Treasure Magazine

Senate elections to be held through secret ballot under Article 226: SC

2 min read
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SC in its opinion also stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was empowered to take all measures to curb corrupt practices under Article 218 (3).

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday said the polls for the upper house will be held through a secret ballot, according to Article 226 of the Constitution.

However, SC in its opinion also stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was empowered to take all measures to curb corrupt practices under Article 218 (3). The apex court, giving its opinion today, also said that secrecy is not absolute.

The SCP announced its opinion on the presidential reference regarding secret ballots in the upcoming Senate elections today.

A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, announced the 4-1 majority decision. One of the bench members, Justice Yahya Afridi, dissented with the majority opinion. 

Earlier, the chief election commissioner, appearing before the bench, had stated that secrecy is absolute. The five-judge larger bench conducted 19 hearings on the presidential reference.

The federal government through Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan filed the presidential reference under Article 186 of the Constitution, seeking opinion of the apex court as to whether the Senate elections are held under the Constitution (Article 226) or under the law (Election Act 2017).

The government had contended that the Senate elections are held under the law and therefore there was no need to amend Article 226 of the Constitution.

In view of its contention, the government has already promulgated an ordinance, allowing open ballot in the Senate elections. However, the enforcement of the ordinance is subject to the verdict of the Supreme Court.

The government had tabled a constitution amendment bill in parliament to introduce open ballot but it vain.

The judges have raised several questions during all hearings. First, the bench focused on the legal question, which is main subject of the presidential reference.

Suddenly, the judges raised the questions over the applicability of Article 218 (3), stating, it is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to organise and conduct election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.

Later, the apex court summoned the chief election commissioner along with all ECP members to inform it about the election scheme to curb corrupt practices in the country.

The CEC, while disagreeing with the majority judges observations, had stated that legislation would be required for identifiable/traceable ballot.