ECP opposes Senate polls thru open ballot Says constitutional amendment required

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday opposed the presidential reference seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court (SC) regarding holding Senate elections via open ballot.
In its reply submitted with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the ECP has rejected the possibility of holding Senate polls through the open ballot and said that the Senate elections would be held as per the constitution of 1973.
Senate polls are defined in article 59, 219 and 224 of the constitution, the ECP reply read. Furthermore as per article 226 all elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot.
In its written response to the Supreme Court in the presidential reference, the Election Commission stated that in order to switch from secret balloting to an open ballot method, an amendment to the Constitution will be required.
“Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973 does not allow open ballot elections for Senate.” The ECP in its reply has also given reference of the Indian constitution in its reply submitted in the Supreme Court.
A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi is currently hearing the presidential reference.
Meanwhile, Jamat Islami, in its written reply, pleaded to the court to send the reference back instead of offering its advice over the matter.
The JI argued that not only the election law but the constitution would also be required and amendment for changing the secret ballot procedure in the Senate election to the open ballot.
The party urged for letting the parliament to take decision over the matter of Senate polls. “Article 226 of the constitution applies over the Senate election,” the JI contended. “A senate candidate should be truthful and trustworthy and a candidate buying votes could not hold these traits,” the party argued. “It is the discretion of assembly members to decide to vote a candidate,” the party said in its reply.