While substantiating his argument for secret ballot during the upcoming Senate elections before the Supreme Court on Monday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Raza Rabbani expressed if decision is taken to hold the upper house election through open ballot then lawmakers would be at the mercy of deep state.
Appearing before a five-member larger bench of the Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed hearing presidential reference for the court’s opinion on holding the Senate election by open ballot, Raza Rabbani claimed it would be difficult for the incumbent government to provide security to its parliamentarian in case of open ballot in the Senate.
Revealing the recent disappearance of 20 presiding officers in the by-elections in NA-75 constituency, Rabbani alleged how a state which has failed to provide security to these officers, can provide security to its members.
He contended that if the right to secret ballot was taken away, the members of the assembly would be in trouble at the hands of the deep state. He further said that on this basis the votes should not be recognizable.
During the proceedings, responding to Rabbani’s claim that it is a bitter truth that the deep state has access to ballot papers, a member of the bench Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that no such case was before the court as the ballot papers were sealed at the polling station. However, Raza Rabbani contended despite sealing of ballot papers.
Saying Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) decided to vote for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate on the issue of re-census in Karachi, Raza Rabbani raised a question: will the court declare this process as corruption?
Upon which Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed the court will decide the matter after examining all circumstances, adding political alliances should not be secret, however, Raza Rabbani said that some political alliances are secret.
Citing the Constitution of 1962, Raza Rabbani submitted the Constitution was about the presidential system which described secret ballot. He further said that the Senate does not represent the political parties but the federation while the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies are directly forums of the political parties.
Responding to query of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed whether the argument was that proportional representation was only about counting votes, adding if the political parties were divided then how the seats of the Provincial Assembly would be represented in the Senate, Raza Rabbani submitted that one can fine find a party that has a well-proportioned representation.
During the course of hearing, responding to a member of the bench Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarks whether a system violating discipline be allowed to run, Rabbani submitted in democracy individualistic dislikes do not dominate over the opinion of the majority.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed political parties need to be strong for good democracy. To which Raza Rabbani submitted that the judiciary has become stable after ups and downs saying continuity of democracy is very important in strengthening political parties.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing for Tuesday where Raza Rabbani will commence his argument.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org