Tuesday Feb 23, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Political alliances are not hidden and democracy will remain a dream unless the current voting method is changed, the Supreme Court observed Monday.
The apex court was hearing the presidential reference seeking an open ballot in the upcoming Senate election.
The reference was heard by a five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising justices Mushir Alam, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijazul Ahsen and Yahya Afridi.
Continuing with the prevalent system of the Senate elections is tantamount to allowing the elected representatives to violate the discipline of their respective parties, the court observed.
Justice Ahmed said Pakistan's electoral system was stuck in one place and the country could not move ahead even for a day since the passage of the 1973 Constitution, according to The News.
A good democracy needed strong political parties, Justice Bandial said, adding that if the secret ballot method continued, parliamentarians will continue to violate party discipline.
The apex court was told that the purpose of the secret ballot was not only to maintain the sanctity of the vote, but also to protect the secrecy of the voter.
Continuing his arguments, Raza Rabbani pleaded that all elections were held under the Constitution, and as per Article 226 of the Constitution elections other than the prime minister and chief ministers are held under secret ballot.
He submitted that making the ballot identifiable will violate the spirit of Article 226 of the Constitution that enshrined that all elections other than prime minister and chief minister shall be held under the secret ballot.
He contended that the deep state will blackmail the members of the Senate and the assembly. Rabbani said it was true that ballot papers were sealed at polling stations, but it’s also easy for the deep state to access ballot papers.
Justice Bandial told Rabbani that the system he wanted to continue will promote individual heroism. Rabbani contended that all elections were held under the Constitution and the court will have to keep in mind that all elections under the Constitution were to be held through the secret ballot.
Justice Ahsen asked if it won’t be a violation of proportional representation when a party’s strength was not reflected in the Senate elections. Rabbani said the Senate election was not a mathematics formulae but a political matter and calculations remain different in math and the Senate election.
Justice Ahsen said if something illegal was done, it was the constitutional mandate of the Election Commission of Pakistan to investigate it
The hearing will resume today (Tuesday).