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National

Senate polls to be held through secret ballot, SC

A five-member larger bench announced its reserved opinion in courtroom number 1.

With intense campaigning of political parties for the Senate polls, the Supreme Court on Monday announced its opinion on the presidential reference regarding Senate elections, saying that polls for the upper house of parliament cannot be held through an open ballot, according to Article 226 of the Constitution.

The 4-1 majority opinion was announced by a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and including Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Yahya Afridi.

The Supreme Court said that Senate elections are held in accordance with the law and the Constitution and that it is up to the ECP to decide to which extent the voting should remain secret.

“It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to end corrupt practices from the electoral process.”

The order added.

The court had reserved its opinion last week after all the parties had concluded their arguments and after the rebuttal of Attorney-General Khalid Javed. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had observed that the court will give its opinion by interpreting the provisions of the Constitution.

It also said that the ECP could “use the latest technology to ensure the holding of transparent elections” under powers granted to it according to Article 218 of the Constitution (related to the formation of election commission).

According to the government, the nature of the elections and the way it is conducted has not been clearly mentioned in the Constitution.

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