A moot was organised by the Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan (CLEIP) on Friday. This was done in collaboration with the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) of the US Department of Commerce. The idea was to discuss redundant and orthodox laws in the constitution of Pakistan that actually help injustices to prevail in the society. One such law, as pointed out by the experts, is the Article 164 of Qanun-e-Shahadat of 1984.

Before Qanun-e-Shahadat came into practice, there was the law of evidence. During the regime of Zia ul Haq, the law was rearranged to be known as Qanun-e-Shahadat. It was almost the same as the previous law, but certain injunctions were added according to Islamic beliefs. Number of witnesses were increased to four in cases of Hudood crimes. Law of accomplice and the qualification of a witness have changed.

What has happened over time is the misuse of these extra clauses, because they facilitate the offenders and make it difficult to punish them. As a result, the ratio of crimes like litigation, harassment, and blackmailing has increased. The experts want the repeal of this law because they feel that the reason for its implementation was to make it difficult for private parties to get justice. Hence it was a tool of denial of justice. Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former chief justice of Pakistan, is of the opinion that laws need to be revised with technological advancements. The opinion is correct when you analyse the current scenario. In a tech savvy era, it becomes easier to indulge in unlawful activities. When laws do not encompass these developments, the criminals get away with their activities easily.

Policies of a state need to be rational and in line with the advancements of the decade. This not only ensures the safety and privacy of the citizens but also takes the country closer to its goal of democratisation. Laws should not be parochial in nature. Justice Jillani also pointed out that several vested interests have been able to exploit this law and our politicians as a result have faced the brunt. What this does is, it normalises extortion, sensationalism, terrorisation, and immorality.

Hildy Bowbeer, US judge from Minnesota, also shared his experience and knowledge of electronic case management in the US. Such exchanges can help Pakistan understand the nitty gritty of the situation and find plausible solutions to revolutionise the current orthodoxy in its legal setup.