Senate poll and proportional representation
The Supreme Court observed that a political party should get the same number of seats in the Senate and if any party won the seats out of proportion, the system could be collapsed. The court observed while hearing the Presidential reference seeking an opinion on open balloting for the upcoming Senate elections. A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed is hearing the presidential reference. The counsel for Election ECP submitted that Senate elections were held under Article 226 while Article 218 authorized the commission to hold transparent elections. According to ECP Counsel, the interpretation of Article 218 did not defuse Article 226 and did not limit the secrecy of Article 226. The ECP lawyer maintained that keeping the votes secret mean that they would always remain secret, the cast votes could never be shown to anyone. Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan remarked that the vote could not be kept secret for-ever. It was neither in the constitution nor in court decisions to keep the vote secret forever.
The Senate Election got much attention by the government with particular focus on its transparency after the announcement by the Political parties comprising the alliance of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) few weeks back. Earlier, these opposition parties were planning to carry out long march and offer resignation from Federal and Provincial Assemblies by the end of January 2021. On this music, PTI government was in full swing and vowing to hold by elections after resignation by the PDM parliamentarians in both Federation and Provinces. PTI rhythm was drastically disturbed by the news of contestation of Senate poll by the Opposition. Government moved hurriedly and opted to convene Senate Poll before time, but legal experts objected it that it is not possible before completion of the term of sitting Senators.
After this episode Government took another swing and rushed to have open ballot in coming Senate poll. Here too, PTI government took three prong policy, first tabled an amendment on the floor of the house for open ballot, secondly, file a Presidential reference in the Supreme Court to seek verdict on open Ballot in Senate Poll and thirdly issue an ordinance calling open ballot forthcoming Senate election. In the backdrop of government three prong strategy, it got failure in getting nod of opposition at the house floor, it is fighting the battle in the Court. The deliberations are continuing will full thrust heading toward conclusion.
The Country’s top court took the ECP on the task while commenting that the fate of the country was in the hands of the Election Commission and it should understand its responsibilities. It further said that the Election Commission had the power to stop vote selling but the commission says it would take action after the theft. The court asked if the political parties got less seats than the proportion, then how would the legislation be? The Court said that drugs and ill-gotten money used to buy votes.
While arguing on proportional representation, it was observed that the parties having seats in provincial assemblies must have presence in that proportion. In this situation, if we take the word proportion it is just like women quota of each party as proportion to their seats in the assemblies. Then, there no reason left behind for Senate election if a party must project its presence in the province. The honorable court is monitoring the proceeding very cautiously, it seems a very important and detail decision is likely to come in coming days. It seems that top court will close all back doors and set the bogy on track that it will never derailed.