The Supreme Court on Monday directed the chief election commissioner and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members to appear in person along with a polling scheme to curb corrupt practices in the upcoming Senate elections. A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the presidential reference regarding holding of Senate elections through open ballot. The chief justice remarked that there is a general perception that Senate elections are tainted by corruption. “Transparent elections are the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, however no scheme has been formulated to curb corrupt practices in the electoral process,” he remarked, adding that it is not enough to just announce the election schedule. “A polling scheme also needs to be formulated to stop corruption,” he asserted. At outset of the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan argued that various political parties as well as the Pakistan Bar Council have submitted their position before the apex court. “The Sindh High Court Bar has declared the reference mala fide. How seeking opinion of the court can be can it be mala fide?” the attorney general asked, adding that he is deeply disappointed to hear the position of the bar councils. “In the past, the bar councils used to stand for supremacy of the constitution and the law. the opposition to open ballot by political parties and bar councils is worrisome … it is unfortunate that bar councils are siding with political parties,” he said, adding that he would request the bar councils to reconsider their position. The chief justice said the bar councils have written in their petitions that the decision should be taken in accordance with the constitution. “The position of the bar councils should be independent and not that of the political parties,” he added. Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan said that it has to be clarified where the role of bar councils ends and where that of the court starts. “Sending resolutions to judges hearing case of bar councils is not a professional attitude,” he said, adding that the ECP can do anything to eradicate corruption from the electoral process. In his remarks, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the provincial assembly laws have bound a federal body (ECP). He said in the instant matter, the parliament did not amend the constitution for an open ballot in Senate elections. The attorney general argued that sometimes a judicial interpretation is required, the court interprets and the parliament amends the constitution accordingly. The chief justice remarked that the Senate election should be secret but any complaints should be investigated. Justice Ijaz said it is the responsibility of the ECP to guard against corrupt practices. He questioned as to how many lawmakers have been disqualified in the last 40 years for selling and buying votes? The ECP lawyer could not give a satisfactory answer. Daily Times Monitoring adds: “Why the general election rules not being applied over the Senate election,” Justice Yahya Afridi questioned. “The election commission also monitors votes in general elections,” Justice Afridi observed. “The secret vote condition is applicable till casting the vote,” Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan said. “This vote has been given indemnity under Article 226,” the ECP lawyer argued. “The election commission could itself inquire into the matter,” Justice Ahsan said. “Now the videos of the election corruption coming to surface,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial said. “The mechanism to curb corruption exists in the election law,” the election commission’s lawyer argued. “Still corrupt practices continuing in the election,” the chief justice remarked. The court summoned the chief election commissioner and the ECP members and adjourned the hearing until today (Tuesday).