ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the forthcoming Senate elections are to be held through secret ballot under Article 226 of the country’s Constitution, reported ARY News.
The apex court’s 4:1 majority decision, however, held that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is empowered to take all measures, including the use of the latest technology, to hold free and fair elections and curb corrupt practices under Article 218 of the Constitution.
A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi pronounced the reserved opinion.
Justice Afridi dissented from the majority opinion.
The court had reserved its opinion after all the lawyers had concluded their arguments. At the last hearing, Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that Parliament only passes resolutions for transparency of the electoral process.
Attorney General Khalid Javed after completion of the arguments of the lawyers in his rejoinder argued that the scrutiny of the vote could not hurt the secrecy. “The presidential reference is not based on a political question, but it seeks interpretation of the Article 226,” the AG argued.
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“Will the supreme court’s opinion will be final,” Justice Yahya Afridi asked. “The government will be bound to the court’s opinion,” AG said. “A review plea could be filed over the court’s opinion,” Justice Afridi said.
“Review petition could not be filed over the reference,” the state lawyers. “The court have no relation with the politics, it will only interpret the constitution,” the chief justice said.