Attorney general files reference
The federal government has filed a reference in the Supreme Court asking for its opinion on holding an open ballot for the upcoming Senate elections.
The attorney general filed the reference on Wednesday.
The reference said that the chances of horse-trading increases in secret ballots, adding that it hampers the country’s democratic processes.
The reference will be heard by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed after the Registrar’s Office finds it maintainable.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission clarified that Senate elections 2021 will not be held before February 10.
Various statements were issued over the Senate elections and certain opinions were expressed over the authority of the ECP, which created ambiguity, a statement by the ECP stated.
“Till now, the commission had issued no statement, but now it feels there is a need to provide legal and constitutional clarity over the matter.”
The commission said that half of the Senate members will retire on March 11, 2021 after completing their term. It pointed out that under Article 224(3) of the Constitution, the elections “shall be held not earlier than thirty days immediately preceding the day on which the vacancies are due to occur”.
The controversy arose when on December 15, the PTI government decided to hold the elections in February instead of March. Following this, a debate had stirred in the cabinet regarding whether the government had the constitutional right to change the election date.
The federal government also decided to hold the Senate election through a show of hands. The decision was made during a meeting of the federal cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Senate elections are held every three years and only the commission has the authority to organise them. The process is, however, spread over phases and takes roughly a month to conclude.