Monday Mar 01, 2021
PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on Monday lashed out at the government and hailed the Supreme Court’s opinion to hold the Senate elections via a secret ballot.
Taking to Twitter, the PML-N leader said that it had been proven once again that "the Constitution is superior to conspiratorial ordinances and ill-intentioned references."
She said that the PTI is now raising a hue and cry about the use of technology to trace the votes polled at the Senate elections.
“Mark my words, no measures similar to the breakdown of the results transmission system (RTS) system and the Daska by-election will be tolerated. Why are you afraid of the power of the vote?” she asked.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had earlier on Monday issued its opinion on the Senate election ballot, stating that polling cannot be held through an open-ballot voting system.
However, the court also held that the secrecy of the ballot is not "absolute" and can be diluted by practical considerations, especially those that relate to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) exercising its mandate to conduct free-and-fair elections that are devoid of any corrupt practices.
The apex court said that it is up to the ECP to decide to which extent the voting should remain secret.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justices Mushir Alam, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Yahya Afridi — announced the reserved opinion in Courtroom No 1 of the Supreme Court.
“It is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution, to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against,” the opinion stated.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan is required by the Constitution to take all necessary steps in order to fulfill the above mandate/duty in terms of Article 222 of the Constitution," it added.
The Supreme Court also made it clear that “all the executive authorities in the Federation and Provinces are obliged to assist the Commissioner and the Election Commission of Pakistan in discharge of his or their functions.”
The Election Commission also has to take all available measures, including "utilising technologies to fulfil the solemn constitutional duty to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against," the Supreme Court said.
Regarding the secrecy of the ballot, the Supreme Court had referred to a past precedent in which it had held that the secrecy of the ballot is not absolute and that “the secrecy of the ballot [...] has not to be implemented in the ideal or absolute sense, but to be tempered by practical considerations necessitated by the processes of election”.
The court had reserved its opinion on the matter last week after the parties had concluded their arguments and Attorney-General Khalid Javed had issued a rebuttal.