ISLAMABAD - A larger bench of the Federal Shariat Court will resume today (Tuesday) the hearing of first Shariat petition against the Hudood Ordinance over punishment for ‘zina’ (adultery and prostitution).

General Ziaul Haq had introduced the Hudood Ordinance in 1979.

On September 14 last year, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court Riaz Ahmed Khan had instructed the federal and the four provincial governments to present their legal view about the classification and qualification of witnesses required under the law.

The ordinance prescribes that four eye-witnesses shall be “Muslim, adult and male” whereas the petitioner insists that the Quran does not ordain any eye-witness account of sexual intercourse.

The petitioner Shahid Orakzai said the witnesses needed not be male because females could be more helpful and informative about any alleged illicit relationship.

The petition is awaiting a decision since 2004 and the court had been requested to summon representatives of the various Islamic schools of jurisprudence to decide the critical question about the form of evidence.

Not a single person could be punished under the Ordinance since 1979 mainly because of lack of eye-witnesses who have to confirm sexual mating.

Orakzai said that the Quran does not require visual confirmation of the offence. The court had told the petitioner that he shall have to prove from the Quran that the witnesses needed not be Muslim, adult or male.