The Sindh government had submitted its response to the Presidential reference seeking an opinion on open ballot for the upcoming Senate elections before the Supreme Court. Advocate General Sindh noted that the Senate polls are held under Article 226 of the country’s constitution and that the Election Act 2017 lays down a method for conducting the polls. According to AG Sindh no legal point has been raised in the reference by the president, while requesting the top court to give any opinion on the matter.
There is a discussion going on between and within the political parties on the conduct of upcoming Senate Elections. Some parties are advocating for open ballot and others are in its opposition. PTI government brought the case to Supreme Court of Pakistan through a Presidential reference, and Honorable Supreme Court noted that Constitution has set the method of Senate Election through secret ballot and if someone want to change it, he can move new legislation on the floor of the house. The court issued notices to the speaker of national as well as provincial assemblies, Senate chairman and advocate generals of all the provinces regarding the presidential reference and seek their legal position and response. Similarly, the court also directed the attorney general as well as all advocate generals of the provinces including ICT to submit their written synopsis at next hearing.
As per reports, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have supported the presidential reference and most likely the Balochistan government will also oks the Presidential reference. Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly also joined the KPK and Punjab. However, Sindh government refused to sit with the government on the issue. The Sindh government urged that the move by the PTI government is politically driven instead of any legal necessity or administrative requirement. The government action does not provide freedom to the voters/ parliamentarians to poll their vote as per their choice or conscious, rather it will be sort of intimidation by the party or government to restrict their parliamentarians.
Although, open ballot provide transperancy in electoral process on other hand it provide an instrument to party leadership to control their party parliamentarians, which is against the basic norms of the democracy. In fact, it is political and legislative issue and if government wants to bring any change it should use relevant procedure and tabled a bill on the floor of the house. All the parties can play their due role in the legislation and an agreed decision will guide the future course in this regard.