The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that that buying and selling of votes will violate the principle of proportional representation in the Upper House and the system will be destroyed if a party takes seats out of proportion. The chief justice remarked that the Senate elections may be secret but the seats should be as many as they are. “The government is formed because of the Election Commission. It has a lot of powers. The fate of the whole country is in the hands of the chief election commissioner,” he added. 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. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and members of the Election Commission appeared on the orders of the apex court. At the outset of the hearing, the counsel for the ECP Sajeel Shehryar informed that a detailed reply has been submitted in the court. He said a vigilance committee has been set up comprising officers from different departments besides an online complaints center, which has received more than 1,100 complaints since September. An affidavit against buying and selling of votes will also be required from the candidate, he added. During the hearing, the ECP counsel took the position that votes can never be shown to anyone. “Keeping the votes secret means they will always remain secret,” he maintained. “You are talking about secrecy till the Day of Judgment for those who are illiterate or seek help to cast their votes. What will happen to their secrecy? Can electronic voting be secret? The seats of a political party in the Senate should be proportional to the seats in the provincial assembly,” Justice Ijaz said. Addressing the chief election commissioner, the chief justice said, “You have not been able to give satisfactory answers yet. How do you determine that the elections were held with proportional representation?” The chief justice asked the CEC to narrate as to what action has been taken so far since the last elections. The attorney general said that the ECP has to be proactive. “People in Islamabad are still roaming around with bags filled with money … they are hopeful and waiting since the court has not ordered an open ballot so far. This time payments are being made in Dubai through Hundi,” he added. The chief justice remarked that even those who give money have a system to decide whether the seller will vote for them or not. “The ECP knows everything but is not telling,” he added. During the hearing, the chief election commissioner took the position that legislation would have to be enacted to make the members of the assembly bound to vote. “There is no restriction on the members of the assembly to cast vote,” he added. The ECP counsel said in case of not voting freely, the Senate elections will not be an election but a selection. “Article 226 will have to be amended to see the votes that had been cast,” he added. The chief justice said that the lawyer of PML-N should be in the court. “The case will end at any time. The Pakistan Bar Council will be heard only on the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the constitution, their political views will not be heard,” he added. In the presidential reference, the attorney general and advocate general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have completed their arguments. The court said that it will hear other parties including the advocate generals of the three provinces on Thursday. Meanwhile, the ECP on Wednesday took notice of the AGP comments in the Supreme Court and summoned him for a clarification. “People are roaming around with suitcases filled with money that will be used in Senate elections,” the AGP had said during a SC hearing The ECP said that it has summoned AGP to get information regarding “who are the people carrying suitcases around”.