President Arif Alvi signs ordinance for open ballot in Senate elections
ISLAMABAD: President of Pakistan Arif Alvi on Saturday signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to pave the way for Senate elections to be held via an “open and identifiable ballot.”
According to the Ordinance, a copy of which has been shared by the president on his Twitter account, changes have been brought to Sections 81, 122 and 185 of the Elections Act, 2017.
The Ordinance will come into effect “at once” and “extend to the whole of Pakistan.”
Amendment of section 81, Act XXXIII of 2017 – “In the Elections Act, 2017 (XXXIII of 2017) in section 81, in sub-section (1), for the word “an”, the expression “subject to section 122, an” shall be substituted.
Amendment of section 122, Act XXXIII of 2017 – “In the said Act, in section 122, in sub-section (6), for the full stop at the end. a colon shall be substituted and thereafter. the following two provisos shall be added: “Provided that in case the Supreme Court of Pakistan gives an opinion in Reference No 1 of 2021 filed under Article 186 of the Constitution that elections for the members of Senate do not fall within the purview of Article 226 of the Constitution, the poll for elections for members of the Senate to be held in March 2021 and thereafter shall be conducted by the Commission through the open and identifiable ballot. “Provided further that after the elections for members of Senate, if the head of the political party requests the Commission to show the ballot cast by any voting member of his party, the Commission shall show the same to the head of the political party or his nominee.”
Amendment of section 185, Act XXXIII of 2017 – “In the said Act, in section 185, for the word “an”, the expression “subject to section 122, an” shall be substituted,” the presidential ordinance added.
According to Section 226 of the Constitution: “All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot”.
The Ordinance further states that after the Senate polls, if the head of a political party wishes to see the ballot cast by any member of his party, the Election Commission of Pakistan shall show them the same.
Earlier in the day, the Federal Cabinet approved a summary to promulgate the ordinance to amend the Election Act, 2017 to hold the Senate polls through an open ballot. The approval was taken from the cabinet through a circulation summary as there is not much time left for the legislation. The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced it will issue the schedule for polls on February 11.
Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan drafted the ordinance which was sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval. It was then sent to President Arif Alvi for ratification.
Earlier this week, the government tabled a bill in parliament to legislate on the matter but the efforts went unsuccessful due to a protest in the National Assembly. The presidential reference is also being heard by the Supreme Court (SC) pertains to the organisation of Senate polls through an open vote.