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Plea filed in LHC for holding Senate elections through open voting

Justice Ali Zia Bajwa issued a nine-page written verdict. Source: FILE.

LAHORE: A constitutional petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court to hold the Senate elections through open voting instead of secret ballot.

 Munir Ahmed, a citizen of Lahore, filed the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique. The federal government, Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly, Election Commission of Pakistan, and others have been made parties in the petition.

In the petition, challenging Section (6) 122 of the Election Act, it was stated that this section of the Election Act calls for holding elections by secret ballot. As per the petitioner, allegations of rigging in the Senate elections have been leveled in every era and rigging has taken place while section 122 of the Election Act is in conflict with Articles 22 and 226 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The petitioner requested the court to quash the Election Act (6) 122 and order the Senate election to be held by open ballot. It may be recalled that the government has filed a presidential reference in the Supreme Court regarding holding the Senate elections through the open ballot.

A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed will hear the reference on 4th January. The bench comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, and Justice Yahya Afridi will hear the presidential reference.

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The government has sought the opinion of the Supreme Court to hold the Senate elections through open ballot or show of hands. The presidential reference filed in the Supreme Court took the position that Senate elections are not held under the Constitution.

The Senate is elected under the Election Act 2017. Senate elections can be held under an open ballot. The government took the position that the open ballot would bring transparency in the Senate elections. The reference said that due to the secret ballot, transparency is questioned after the Senate elections.