Pakistan Today (Lahore)
Strong political parties necessary for good democracy: SC
DEMOCRACY STRENGTHENED THE MASSES AND IT SPOKE ABOUT COLLECTIVISM, SAYS JUSTICE BANDIAL
Supreme court (Sc) Judge Justice umar ata bandial on Monday remarked that strong political parties were necessary for good democracy.
a five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by chief Justice of Pakistan (cJP) gulzar ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir alam, Justice umar ata bandial, Justice Ijaz ul ahsan and Justice yahya afridi heard the presidential reference seeking an opinion on open balloting for the upcoming Senate elections.
During the course of proceedings, PPP Senator raza rabbani argued that the bill to amend article 226 was pending in the Senate.
he said that the government had also issued an ordinance not to apply article 226 to the Senate elections. In the 1973 constitution, no election was held through secret ballot except for those for the post of the prime minister and the chief minister, he said, adding that elections for the aforementioned ministerial posts were again held by open ballot after the 18th amendment.
he said that the constitution was amended to hold elections for the prime minister and the chief ministers through secret balloting in 1985 elections. he stated that the purpose of holding the election of the premier through an open ballot was to ensure party discipline.
The elections of the speaker and the chairman of the Senate were held through secret ballot because these positions were above political affiliation, he added. Justice bandial maintained that there was no provision in the constitution for holding Senate elections through an open ballot. The rights of provinces and political parties were two different things, he added.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, in reply, said that the Senate was for the protection of federal units, not for political parties. If the right to a secret ballot was taken away, the members of the assembly would be in trouble at the hands of the deep state, he maintained.
The CJP remarked that Article 63-A also applied to the election of the prime minister and chief ministers. The Constitution of Pakistan was similar to the Constitution of Ireland and according to the Irish court, the state owned the cast votes, he added.
Justice Bandial said that individualistic dislikes did not dominate the majority opinion in a democracy. Addressing Raza Rabbani, he asked how could he say that a system that strengthened individuality should work in a democratic sense.
He inquired if the system that violated discipline should be allowed to run.
Rabbani replied that Article 226 had discussed at three different forums as the bill was called for amendment in the assembly. He said that examples of Indian law were given in the Pakistani Supreme Court. The Constitution and law of India could not determine the limits of Article 226 of the Constitution of Pakistan, he stressed.
The PPP Senator said that the office of the prime minister and the chief ministers was considered as the leaders of the relevant houses.
He said that secret elections were a different matter. Votes were cast beyond party policy in Senate elections, therefore, the Constitution provided protection under Article 226. He added that the Senate was the house of the federation and it protected federal units. The Senate represented the federation, not the political parties, he stressed. The national Assembly (nA) and the provincial assemblies were direct forums for political parties, he further said.
Rabbani maintained that the Senate’s concept was radically different. The nA represented the majority of the population, while federal units were proportionally represented in the Senate, he explained. There was no provision in Article 63 for disqualification of a member of the assembly in a Senate election, he added.
He further stated that Hafeez Pirzada’s speech on proportional representation in the Senate was actually related to the nA. The late minister of law Abdul Hafeez Pirzada spoke about the representation of political parties in the national Assembly, not of proportional representation in the Senate, he added. Addressing Rabbani, CJP Gulzar said that, according to his argument, proportional representation was only about counting votes. In this regard, he asked that if political parties were divided, how would the seats of the provincial assembly be represented in the Senate.
Justice Ijaz, citing the example of how Party A, which could get six seats but only got two, asked how the law would deal with the matter of proportional representation. He inquired into what was the given wisdom of the framers of the Constitution
about proportional representation.
Rabbani replied that this was not a math question, nor was it a matter of A, B or C parties. It was a matter of Senate and federation, he said.
Justice Bandial remarked that the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) in his arguments said that the law did not have a complete election code. He reiterated that democracy strengthened the masses and it spoke about collectivism.
The hearing of the case was adjourned till Tuesday wherein Raza Rabbani would continue his arguments.
Speaking on the matter, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said that emphasis on secret vote balloting in Senate elections by PPP counsel Raza Rabbani was incompatible with the Charter of Democracy (CoD) and ideology of former Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
Talking to media outside the SC, he said Senator Raza Rabbani, representing the PPP, took the plea which was repugnant to the CoD clauses that had been inked by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, adding it tantamount to throwing the agreement in a dustbin.
He maintained it was evident that both parties were opposing people-friendly legislation and had now retracted the CoD.
He took leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-nawaz (PML-n) and the PPP to task for their inclination to continue past dirty practice of sale and purchase of votes in Senate elections.