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Punjab backs open ballot Senate polls in reply to Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has backed holding the Senate polls with open ballot in its reply over the Presidential reference submitted in the Supreme Court, ARY News reported on Saturday.

The federal government has filed the reference in the apex court under Article 186 of the Constitution seeking its opinion about holding the upcoming Senate polls through the open ballot.

The government has sought opinion of the court if the issue can be decided without amending the constitution by introducing amendment in section 122 (vi) of the Election Act 2017.

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

The assembly members elected with popular vote, while elected members are entitled to elect senators, the government said in its reply.

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

“The procedure of the senate election has been different than other polls. Elections of the president, chairman senate and prime minister conducted under the constitution and the constitution says nothing about any preferred procedure,” the Punjab government said in its reply.

A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi, hearing the reference.

The apex court had issued notices to Advocate Generals, the Election Commission of Pakistan, Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and the Speakers of provincial assemblies over the issue.

The court had adjourned further hearing of the reference until January 11 (Monday).

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