Presidential reference on Senate JUI-F opposes open-balloting in SC

291

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F requested the Supreme Court on Monday to declare the incumbent government’s presidential reference on open balloting in the Senate elections as non-maintainable, based on malice and an attempt to undermine parliament.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government has filed a presidential reference with the apex court seeking its guidance regarding amending the Election Act, 2017 through an ordinance to allow the use of open-ballots in the upcoming Senate election.
The JUI-F’s counsel Kamran Murtaza submitted a reply before the five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed.
Senator Raza Rabbani also appeared before the bench and opposed the presidential reference. He will also submit his reply.
The JUI-F, in its reply, maintained that the question in the reference was not bonafide as “it carries an inference, not in good faith, lacks jurisdiction and is meant to bypass the parliament, therefore, is liable to be declared as such”.
The party’s statement observes that the “Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, being amongst the registered political parties of Pakistan and having a direct stake in not just the Senate elections but on the sanctity of the Constitution, parliament and democracy”.
As per the JUI-F’s statement, “the question in reference carries an inference that the elections of the Senate are not elections held under the Constitution. The question infers that the Senate elections are held under the Elections Act 2017, which is enacted pursuant to Article 222, read with Entry 41, Part 1, Fourth Schedule of the Constitution”.
It further maintains that “the reference under the reply of paragraph 10 states that elections of the President of Pakistan are held “under” the Constitution, however, Entry 41 in Part 1 of Fourth Schedule of the Constitution also provides for election of president. The Elections Act 2017 does not state anywhere that it is enacted pursuant to Article 222 of the Constitution”.
The reply maintained that bad faith in the reference was that “even if inference of the subject question is agreed with, Article 222 of the Constitution provides that Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) may by law, provide for the conduct of elections, however, the reference at paras 21 and 29 expressed the intention of the president to bypass the requirement of Article 222 by enacting an ordinance to amend Elections Act 2017 to require open ballot for Senate elections”.
“The conduct of the Honourable President has been questionable ever since he assumed office. It has been established by now that he has misused his office time and again to promulgate Ordinances, which the Article 89 of Constitution expressly bars when National Assembly and Senate are in session, however.