ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan has constituted a five-judge larger bench to commence 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 (today).
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, 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.
At the previous hearing on January 04, the apex court had issued notices to the advocates general of all four provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory, the speakers of all provincial assemblies, speaker of the National Assembly, Chairman Senate and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) directing them to submit written synopses to the court. Any other party interested in being a part of the case could also file petitions in the Supreme Court, the order said.
The court also directed that notices be published in newspapers to seek the public’s opinion on the matter. The apex court also asked senior advocate, Hadi Shakeel, from Quetta to appear and assist the court as amicus curiae.
According to replies submitted by the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both the provinces backed presidential reference, seeking guidance from the Supreme Court on the federal government’s plan to amend the Election Act 2017 through an ordinance to allow the use of open-ballot at the upcoming Senate elections.
“It is the considered view of the Punjab that the reference in question may kindly be answered in the affirmative so that by undertaking necessary remedial statutory action, the Election Act 2017 is amended and enable the elections to the Senate to be held through open ballot,” pleads Advocate General of Punjab Ahmad Awais in a rejoinder. “This provincial government supports the reference No. 01, 2020, sent by the President to this Honourable Court,” said the KP advocate general in his reply.