It seems that all officials of the state are handed the same guidebook for creating reasons for dissent – when all else fails, call it un-Islamic.

What is the latest victim of the nefarious tag? Not a dress code, or a film or alcohol or any other issue that might have a moral component, but the voting procedure for selecting chairmen and vice-chairmen in recently elected local government bodies.

While deciding between a secret ballot system and a show of hands system, the learned Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Anwar Zaheer Jamali, observed on Tuesday that the concept of secret ballot is alien to Islam and is rather, derived from the west. “The method of secret ballot is a western concept and has nothing to do with Islam,” the Chief Justice observed, adding that the open ballot system discourages hypocrisy – Yes you read that correctly. Perhaps the learned justice was thrown off by the word “secret”, which sent moral alarm bells ringing in his head.

This is not a question of what method has more integrity and which is more devious; it merely requires the judge to decide which method allows the voter most freedom to vote as he wishes. Secret ballots allow you to vote for whomever you want, even if there is pressure on you to vote for a certain party. This need becomes all the more important when the voting body is small – like the local government body – and everyone has direct interaction with everyone else and a single vote can make a big difference. By contrast, open balloting is preferred when voting for laws or resolutions, so that we can see whether a lawmaker is holding true to his election promises.

Absolutely none of this has to do with hypocrisy or dishonesty. Why the learned Justice chose to make this non-issue the focal deciding factor in this case is beyond understanding. The tragedy is not the wrong decision – even Chief Justices make them from time to time – but the reasoning behind it. “Secret balloting is a western concept” and hence must be removed. If that is the case, Mr Jamali should hang up his western judge’s gown, exit his western styled courtroom, and write a letter of resignation in English – a western language – so that he can devote his time to doing eastern, Islamic things – maybe camel breeding.

It is a travesty that precedents in the highest court of law being made on an obsolete Western Islamic dichotomy instead of rational legal reasons – the Supreme Court should leave that job for the Federal Shariat Court and focus on being legal arbiter not moral ones. We have mullahs aplenty for that.