Monday Mar 01, 2021
The Senate Election Amendment Ordinance 2021 has been revoked following the opinion of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan said Monday.
Speaking to Geo News, AGP Khalid said the decision taken by the court is a "historic" one, adding that the "government has also welcomed it."
The attorney general said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should implement the apex court's opinion in the March 3 Senate elections, adding: We welcome SC's statement that the secrecy of the ballot could not be permanent."
The AGP further said that the court had asked to use technology in the election.
"The ballot papers are yet to be printed, so the ECP can use the papers as the lawmakers' identity."
Senate elections to be held through secret ballot
Earlier on Monday, the apex-court had issued its opinion on the Senate election ballot, stating that polling cannot be held through the open ballot.
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 fulfil 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 fulfill 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.