President Alvi ratifies ordinance paving way for Senate elections through open referendum

President Alvi ratifies ordinance paving way for Senate elections through open referendum

President Arif Ali on Saturday ratified an ordinance paving the way for an open vote in the Senate elections.

He signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, a copy of which the president shared on his Twitter account.

According to the ordinance, sections 81, 122 and 185 of the Election Act 2017 have been amended.

The ordinance will come into force “at the same time” and will be “extended to the whole of Pakistan”.

In this case, it is subject to the pending opinion of the Supreme Court on the presidential reference.

Provided that if the Supreme Court of Pakistan gives its opinion in Reference No. 1 of 2021 filed under Article 186 of the Constitution, elections for members of the Senate do not fall under the purview of Article 226 of the Constitution, the Ordinance states that The commission will be elected by members for the March 2021 elections, followed by an open and identifiable ballot.

According to Article 226 of the Constitution: “Except for the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, all elections under the Constitution shall be by secret ballot.”

The ordinance further states that after the Senate elections, if the leaders of a political party want to see the ballot cast by a member of their party, the Election Commission of Pakistan will show the same.

The federal cabinet approved the summary

Earlier, the federal cabinet had approved a summary to issue an ordinance to amend the Election Act 2017 to allow the Senate elections to be held through open voting.

According to Geo NewsThis approval was obtained from the Cabinet through a circular summary as there is not much time left for this legislation. The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced that it will release the election schedule on February 11.

Sources said that Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan drafted the ordinance which was sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval. It was then sent to President Arif Ali for ratification.

Earlier this week, the government introduced a bill in parliament to legislate on the issue, but protests in the National Assembly failed.

Opposition to open referendum

Opposition parties have accused the government of tabling the bill because it “fears that PTI lawmakers will not vote on it.”

Following the news of the federal cabinet’s approval of the summary, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari vowed not to allow the government to “desecrate” the secret ballot in the Senate elections.

The PPP chairman questioned the need to issue an ordinance when the matter is a matter of sub-justice and awaits a court decision.

In addition, before the ordinance was ratified by Alvi, it was agreed in a meeting between PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz that the method of holding Senate elections without constitutional amendment The car cannot be changed.

Fazlur Rehman said that PDM would approach the court on the issue if it comes to that.

Presidential reference

The reference filed by the government in the Supreme Court states that the President has sought the opinion of the Supreme Court on whether the secret ballot referred to in Article 226 of the Constitution should be subject only to the Constitution. Only valid for upcoming elections. Since the President’s Office, as the election of the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies, and under the “Election Act 2017” held under the Election Act 2017, “other elections such as elections for members of the Senate” are not entered. Read with 41 (1) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution “which may be by secret or open referendum” as set forth in the Act.

According to the government, the nature of the election and its conduct are not clearly mentioned in the constitution.

The government has said that the election for the Senate is conducted in accordance with the Election Act of 2017 and asked whether it is possible to propose an open referendum in the upper house of parliament.

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