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Saturday October 23, 2021

Senate elections: SC bound to give opinion on presidential reference, says AGP

January 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The federal government Monday told the Supreme Court that its opinion on the presidential reference filed under Article 186 had a binding effect and no embargo could be placed on his authority to seek the court’s advice on the question of law.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Pakistan (JUI-P), on the other hand, opposed the holding of Senate elections through the open ballot and requested the apex court to declare the presidential reference as non-maintainable and an attempt to undermine the Parliament. A five-member larger bench of the apex court — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed — resumed hearing in the presidential reference. Justice MushirAlam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were the other members of the bench.

On December 23, the federal government had sought the opinion of Supreme Court on holding the Senate elections through open balloting and show of hands. After approving the proposal of prime minister, President Dr. Arif Alvi had filed the reference with the Supreme Court under Article 186 of the Constitution.

Initiating arguments, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed said he would start his argument by stating why the reference was admissible. He said the presidential reference came under Article 226 of the Constitution and the apex-court was bound to give an opinion [on the reference filed by the president] under the law.

The attorney general informed the court that under the Constitution's Article 186, the SC could also give an opinion on the future legislation. He said under Article 186, the president could seek the Supreme Court's opinion.

Earlier, Hassan Irfan Khan advocate also filed a written synopsis with the apex court on behalf of Muddassar Hassan advocate, who had opposed the reference seeking its opinion on the holding of Senate elections.

He submitted that the reference did not reflect bona fide intentions, as it was moved at a time when 26th Amendment to the Constitution was pending with the Parliament. He contended that the question referred to having the trappings and effect of a political question may graciously be answered strictly in accordance with the express wording of Article 226.

Senator Raza Rabbani also informed the court that he had also filed a CMA for becoming a party to the matter in hand in his personal capacity as senator. Qamar Afzal advocate submitted that he had also filed his written synopsis adding that he supported the presidential reference and will assist the court on the matter.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin through the video link from Karachi Registry submitted that they will also be filing a brief synopsis on behalf of the provincial government and sought one week time.

“Is it going to be a sweat one?” the chief justice asked the AG Sindh on a lighter note. Additional Advocate General Balochistan and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Advocate General informed the court that they had prepared a written synopsis and will file it shortly. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing until January 13 and asked the attorney general to provide copies of his synopsis with all the parties concerned.