ISLAMABAD - Speakers at a conference were unanimous to see Article 164 of Qanun-i-Shahadat 1984 repealed keeping in view its misuse and hindrance it creates in the way of fair trial and dispensation of justice.

Addressing at the moot organised by the Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan (CLEIP) in collaboration with Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) of US Department of Commerce here Friday, the speakers said that keeping in view the prevalent injustices in society along with the evils of harassment, blackmailing and frivolous litigation based on evidence procured through illegal use of modern devices and techniques for ulterior motives the flawed laws like Qanun-i-Shahadat Order 1984 become hurdle in provision of justice to litigants, so it should be repealed forthwith.

Giving background and circumstances behind promulgation of Qanun-i-Shahadat Order, 1984, Muhammad Aqil, Advocate Supreme Court, and Member Pakistan Bar Council, stated: “The Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984” was promulgated by the military regime of General Ziaul Haq as a tool for denial of justice to private parties  by providing legality to conversations (recorded through use of modern electronic devices and techniques) in private / personal disputes of civil and commercial nature as evidence in courts.

Addressing the closing session of the conference as chief guest, former chief justice of Pakistan Justice (Retd) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani said the gap between technological innovation and the legal rules necessary to govern such developments is ever-widening.

He said it is must to develop and pursue rational efficient policies to ensure that Pakistan makes the best possible use of technology as a driving and democratising force, accommodating business and entrepreneurs while protecting the rights and the privacy of the consumers and the public at large. Keeping this in view, the former chief justice of Pakistan emphasised that regulation must ensure that the internet and the world of technology is a safe and equitable place.

Earlier, the participants at the conference, while sharing his professional experience and reading his paper on “E-Dispute Resolution: Evidence Electronic Case Management – Issues, Challenges and Reforms Admission of Electronic Evidence in Private, Civil and Commercial Disputes” Mohammad Aqil advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan stated that in this modern technological and computer age it has become far more easier to fake up evidence by using, erasing, tampering and making interpolations in audio/video cassettes/CDs and preparing fake and fabricated tapes/cassettes/CDs and morphed up images by parties trying to establish false, fake and fabricated claims against rivals in all types of litigations, be it civil, commercial or criminal.

While calling for repeal of Article 164 of the Qanun-i-Shahadat, Order, 1984, he expressed concern that even the government and politicians have felt the brunt of this Article 164 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat, 1984 as with the help of mimickers, camera-tricks and various electronic devices and techniques, including computer software blackmailing, false, fabricated and frivolous claims have been made by vested interests to exploit and use against adversaries in courts. He feared that such dirty tricks not only destabilise the social structure of a society but also promotes immorality, extortion, terrorisation, scandalisation, forced marriages and sometimes sensationalization of issues.

Demanding a fair and just law of evidence as the need of the hour, other distinguished keynote speakers and jurists, including US Judge from Minessota, Hildy Bowbeer, and Muhammad Amir Munir of Punjab Judicial Academy shared their respective experiences of electronic case-management in the United States and Pakistan with progress and challenges at trial.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Dr Tariq Hassan apprised the participants of the works and achievements made by The Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan (CLEIP) as a centre of excellence for continuing legal education and enhance professionalism amongst lawyers, advocates and other qualified person, in a cost effective manner.