Supreme Court of Pakistan upholds the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 226 of the constitution says, “All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime
Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot.”
This was after the federal government decided to invoke an advisory jurisdiction of the supreme court on open polls.
As usual, Twitter is showing two kinds of interpretation to the decision. Some are celebrating the fine print, while others the main decision.
The Government Side
Information Minister Shibli Faraz commented on the matter saying that this is a landmark ruling as Supreme Court says that the secrecy is not absolute.
The Supreme Court bench said that the secrecy of the ballot papers, however, was “not final”, quoting a decision by the top court on the same case in 1967 (Niaz Ahmed case).
Supreme Court's judgement in Presidential reference is historic under which the #SenateElections will be held as per Article 226 of the constitution: Information Minister @shiblifaraz https://t.co/Zs868kSazN— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) March 1, 2021
The bureau chief of Dunya news tv also maintains the government’s interpretation that the secrecy is not absolute. He even goes on to side with a public opinion that says that the “ballots will be traceable by ECP”.
This interpretation was born as the supreme court said in the decision that the election commission shall make arrangements to discourage corrupt practices by means of technology etc.
The government side is interpreting this as a green signal for traceable ballots.
It must be noted that the CEC, during his appearance in court had stated that legislation would be required for an identifiable/traceable ballot.
The ones who think the government suffered a loss
While the government is appreciating the secret ballot’s ephemeral nature, many think that this was a huge turnover of the Presidential Ordinance.
Mr. Musharraf Zaidi, a renowned public policy expert wrote that this was a victory and such a presidential ordinance depicts uncertainty in the country leading to consequences. However, he later also said that the non-permanent nature of the secret ballot has left room for future manipulations in article 226, and was an attempt at shrugging responsibility.
relief at the SC judgement may be premature.
By putting the onus of curbing corruption on the ECP and deeming secrecy to be “not absolute”, the door has been left open to more attempts in the future at manipulation of Art 226.
The preferred route may be via the ECP itself.— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) March 1, 2021
Also, Ex-Finance Minister and senior PMLN member Ishaq dar said that it was what he had predicted that the supreme court would uphold the constitution.
What my tweet said on 17th Feb 2021 has become Supreme Court’s decision today. It was straight and simple i.e. as per article 226, the Senate Elections have to be through secret ballot. Period! https://t.co/6qoxc4r3rc
— Ishaq Dar (@MIshaqDar50) March 1, 2021
At this moment Gharida Farooqi, an anchorperson said that it’s an interesting opinion/decision satisfying each party and holding something for each to play up/against with. She said that let’s wait for the detailed decision to see how the Senate election proceeds.