ECP, JI oppose presidential reference on open ballot

ISLAMABAD (TLTP): While submitting concise statement before Supreme Court on Saturday, the cou-ntry’s Election Commiss-ion has expressed that there is no room for open ballot voting in the upcoming Senate elections whereas Jamaat-e-Islami urged the SC to return the presidential reference on the grou-nds that constitution doesn’t empower the court to decide a political question.

Opposing the reference seeking opinion of the SC in the matter, Election Co-mmission of Pakistan (EC-P) said in its concise statement before the top court that there is no possibility of holding Senate polls through the open ballot.

According to the statements, the Senate polls are defined in Article 59, 219 and 224 of the Constitution, adding under Article 226 of the Constitution all elections under the Constitution other than the Prime Minis-ter and the Chief Minister, shall be held by secret ballot. Citing Indian Constitution provisions the ECP submitted that under Article 55 of the Indian Constitution the election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

It is pertinent to mention that a five-member larger of the top court led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi, is currently hearing the presidential reference which asked the interested parties to submit their applications to become party in the matter.

Meanwhile, opposing presidential reference over open ballot in the upcoming Senate elections Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Saturday urged the Supreme Court to return the reference to the government on the grounds that the constitution doesn’t empower the court to decide a political question.

Filing a miscellaneous application before the SC on Saturday with a plea to become party in proceedings of the presidential reference, Jamaat-e-Islami submitted, “ Mere glance at the contents of the reference and the question raised therein would show that the present federal government lacks sufficient number in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), is trying to use the judicial branch for its political purpose, to indirectly amend the constitution and law – It is submitted that this Honourable Court may not enter the political arena, that is likely to undermine its neutrality and independence”.

JI claimed that the presidential reference is not maintainable under Article 186 of the Constitution because it raised a political question.

Adding the JI submitted to address a political question Majlis-e-Shoora is the appropriate forum for the redressal of controversy by amending the Constitution and Section 122 (6) of the Election Act 2017.

Pertinently mentioned that Section 122 is about the ‘voting procedure’ in elections which subsection 6 has been described as, “The poll for election of Members of the Senate shall be held by secret ballot”.

“There is no cavil with the proposition that this Court is the ultimate interpretation of the Constitution- The question of interpretation would arise only if there was any ambiguity in any provision of the Constitution or law – It is submitted that Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 122 (6) of the Election Act, 2017 are clear and do not require any interpretation”, JI submitted. The prayed the court to return the presidential reference to the President unanswered terming the reference for the opinion of the court as illusionary, misconceived and against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.