Punjab backs open ballot Senate polls in reply to SC

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has backed the process of holding Senate polls with open ballot, according to its reply over the presidential reference submitted to the Supreme Court (SC).

The federal government had filed the reference in the apex court under Article 186 of the Constitution, seeking the court’s opinion about holding the upcoming Senate polls through open ballot by introducing an amendment in section 122 (vi) of the Election Act, 2017 without amending the Constitution.

Punjab Advocate General submitted the provincial government’s reply to the court notice, stating that the assembly members used to vote for their personal interest and violate party discipline in secret ballot against the basic principles of democracy.

“The assembly members have no justification to seek to exercise their right to vote with a secret ballot. Those opposing party policies can tender resignations from their assembly seats. One should step down instead of selling the vote,” the provincial government wrote in the reply.

“The procedure of Senate election has been different from other polls. The elections of president, prime minister and Senate chairman are conducted under the Constitution, which says nothing about any preferred procedure.”

A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, comprising of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justices Mushir Alam, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijaz ul Ahsan and Yahya Afridi, had issued notices to the provincial advocate generals, Election Commission of Pakistan, Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker and provincial assemblies’ speakers over the issue.

The hearing of the case will resume on Monday (tomorrow).

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