March 02; At a PILDAT Virtual Forum on Supreme Court Judgement: Open or Secret Ballot in Senate Election? panellists strongly supported the decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan and shared consensus on holding Senate election through Secret ballot.
The esteemed panel at the PILDAT Forum included Mr. Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate Supreme Court and Former Governor; Former Caretaker Federal Minister, Mr. Fawad Hasan Fawad, Former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT while the forum was moderated by Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT.
Opening the Forum, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said that while the issue of the secrecy of the ballot for the Senate Election 2021 is resolved, it remains to be seen how this is played out in the future. In raising various questions emanating from the Supreme Court’s opinion on the Presidential Reference on Senate election. He questioned whether the opinion by the Supreme Court is to be treated as binding or just an opinion? He also asked what is the relevance of the 1967 Niaz Ahmad v. Azizuddin & Others (PLD 1967 SC 466) regarding secrecy of the ballot for Senate election. Most importantly, he also raised a question about future relationship between the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan in the context of the tone and tenor of exchange between the two during the hearing of the presidential reference.
Mr. Fawad Hasan Fawad believed that it is premature to discuss secrecy of ballot until detailed opinion of Supreme Court is not available. However, supporting secret ballot to be the basis for Senate Election, he argued that this was a well-considered decision by the framers of the 1973 Constitution and has not been changed since despite many amendments to the Constitution. Commending the Election Commission of Pakistan, he said that the ECP has shown tremendous restraint in answering queries of the Supreme Court adding that restraint in exercise of power in discharge of its duties essentially increases the stature and respect of the institution. He argued that use of money in Senate election is not a large issue and will be eventually weeded-out through the evolution of democracy in Pakistan. He said that he supports the minority opinion by Honourable Justice Yahya Afridi that the issue of secret ballot of Senate election need not have been sent to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Shahid Hamid believed that while opinion of the Supreme Court is not binding, there have to be concrete reasons on why an opinion can not be implemented. Disagreeing with the minority view of Justice Afridi, Mr. Shahid Hamid believed that issue of corrupt practices is indeed an issue. He supported secret ballot and commended the decision of the ECP in holding Senate Election 2021 accordingly. Mr. Hamid, argued, however, that the issue of corrupt practices must be resolved and the Parliament and relevant institutions have three more years to resolve this before the next Senate election.
Complete video of PILDAT Virtual Forum on Supreme Court Judgement: Open or Secret Ballot in Senate Election? is now available at these links.
The live stream can also be viewed below.