ISLAMABAD: Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan on Monday said that the Supreme Court is bound to give its opinion in the presidential reference.
The statement came during the hearing of a presidential reference filed by the Attorney General’s Office, through which President Dr. Arif Alvi sought the opinion of the Supreme Court on whether Article 226 of the Constitution was an “open referendum” for the Senate elections. Allows
A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will hear the reference.
In its arguments, the AGP maintained that the President could seek the opinion of the High Court under Article 186 of the Constitution. The Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments have backed the federal government’s support for holding Senate elections by show of hands, rather than by secret ballot.
The KP government, in its response to the Supreme Court, said that in the past, the method of secret ballot was used against the spirit of elections. The KP government demanded that the court allow the parliament and the government to amend the Election Act 2017 and hold the Senate elections through open voting.
The Punjab government said lawmakers use the Senate elections to run against party policy for their personal gain. He assured that members who oppose the party policy can resign and it is better to resign than sell their votes.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government asked for time to file a reply. The Supreme Court gave him a week to file a reply. The bench also granted the request of PPP Senator Raza Rabbani to be a party in the matter.
On January 4, the apex court had issued notices to federal and provincial advocate generals, NA speakers and speakers of provincial assemblies and the Election Commission of Pakistan to hear the presidential reference for holding the Senate elections by open ballot.
A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed heard the reference comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan.
The reference states that the President has sought the opinion of the Supreme Court as to whether the secret ballot referred to in Article 226 of the Constitution applies only to elections held under the Constitution, such as the President and the Speakers. Only for elections. And read with entry 41 (1) of the Fourth Schedule for the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Provincial Assemblies and the Elections Act 2017 under the Elections Act 2017 for “other elections such as elections not for members of the Senate”. The Constitution “which may be held by secret or open referendum” as set forth in the Act.
According to the government, the nature of the election and the manner in which it is conducted are not clearly stated in the constitution.
The government said that elections to the Senate are conducted in accordance with the Election Act 2017 and asked whether it was possible to introduce the idea of open referendum in the upper house of parliament.