The Supreme Court will on Monday issue its opinion on a presidential reference seeking apex court’s view on holding upcoming Senate elections through open ballot, according to a supplementary cause list issued on Saturday. The top court had reserved its decision on the matter on Thursday. A day prior to that, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had noted that the parliament is the forum that must decide the method of voting for Senate elections, including the degree of secrecy to be allowed. As per the cause list, notices were issued to the Attorney General (AG) for Pakistan, chief election commissioner, Senate chairman and the speaker of the National Assembly. Additionally, notices were also sent to speakers of the four provincial legislatures, the advocates general of the four provinces, members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and others. The opinion will be announced in the open court by a five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi at 9am on Monday. The lawyer for the ECP had requested the court to give its opinion by February 28 so the process for holding the upcoming Senate elections, which are slated to take place on March, could be completed in time. AG Khalid Jawed Khan had on December 23 moved the 11-page reference under Article 186 of the Constitution relating to the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. President Arif Alvi had sought answer to the question of whether or not the condition of secret ballot under Article 226 of the constitution applies to the Senate elections. The reference seeks apex court’s opinion on whether the condition of holding a secret ballot referred to in Article 226 of the constitution is applicable only for the elections held under the Constitution, such as the election to the office of president, speakers and deputy speakers of the Parliament and provincial assemblies and “not to other elections, such as the election for the members of Senate” held under the Elections Act 2017 enacted to pursuant to Article 222 read with Entry 41 (1) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution “which may be held by way of secret or open ballot” as provided for in the Act. According to the government, the nature of the elections and the way it is conducted has not been clearly mentioned in the constitution. The government had approached the Supreme Court in a bid to ensure more transparency in the voting process in Senate elections. Senators have in the past elections been accused of engaging in ‘horse-trading’, with 20 PTI members even dismissed from the party after the 2018 elections. The opposition parties, however, have been protesting the move, especially after the government brought in a presidential ordinance that paves the way for open balloting in the upcoming Senate elections. They have said that such changes can only be brought about constitutionally and thus the parliament should have been taken into confidence before such a decision. During the hearing, the chief justice had questioned why a constitutional amendment was not being done to end corruption in the election process, going on to observe that resolutions were passed by the parliament to make the election process transparent. “Everyone is accepting there are corrupt practices [but] no one is taking measures to stop them,” he had remarked. Justice Afridi questioned whether the court’s opinion on the presidential reference would be considered final to which the AG responded that the government would be bound by it.