The Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984 is very important piece of legal document in Pakistan. It repealed the Evidence Act of 1872. Qanun-e-Shahadat Order was made law by President Zia-ul-Haq in 1984. It governs the law related with evidence in all law courts of Pakistan. The Qanun-e-Shahadat 1984 is an objective law. It is the compendium of rules of procedure/practices according to which the court is to record evidence of the parties. It prescribes rules, methods with regard to evidence of parties. This order except with few exceptions, and the repealed Evidence Act, 1872 are subjectively the same but objectively they are poles apart. It is an admitted position that all Articles or the Order 1984 are substantially and subjectively mere reproduction of all sections of the repealed Act with exceptions of Article 3, Article 4 to 6(with reference to Hudood), addition of Article 44 and addition of a proviso to Article 42 if compared with corresponding sections of the repealed Act. Similarly the term “Qanun-e-Shahadat” is only an Urdu or Arabic translation of English term “Law of Evidence”.
The significant change made in the Qanun-e-Shahadat is that “Courts-Martial” covered under the Army Acts besides a tribunal or other authority exercising judicial or quasi judicial powers or jurisdiction have been included. The repealed Evidence Act, 1872 was applicable to “affidavits” but in the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984, affidavits are not immune from its application. Only the proceedings saved are the proceedings before an Arbitrator, the reason thereof is obvious that award, if any, announced by the Arbitrator is subject to strict scrutiny under the Arbitration Act, 1940.
The Object of Qanun-e-Shahadat Order is evident from its preamble which has never been the object of the repealed Evidence Act. With reference to the preamble, Intention of object of introduction this Order, as stated therein, is to bring the all laws of evidence in conformity with the injection of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. As interpretation of all articles of Qanun-e-Shahadat must be done in conformity with the injection of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah instead of adopting old interpretation of the repealed Evidence Act, 1872. However, principles of Islamic Law of evidence so long as they are not codified or adopted by Qanun-e-Shahadat, 1984 are not per se applicable Order apply to all judicial and quasi judicial proceedings. All technicalities have to be avoided and callas for doing substantial justice between parties are to be heeded.
The Tribunals especially in cases where they are required to adjudicate upon the civil rights of the parties are under an obligation to act judicially and are bound to follow the fundamental rules of evidence and fair play which are embodied in the principles of natural justice. They are required to give an opportunity to the party affected, make some kind of inquiry, and give a hearing and to collect evidence, if any. Considering all the facts and circumstances bearing on the merits of the controversy before any decision is given by them. There are the essential elements of a judicial approach to the dispute. Prescribed forms of procedure are not necessary to be followed provided in coming to the conclusion these well-recognized norms and principles of judicial approach are observed by the tribunal. Jurisdiction of a court within whose territorial limit, cause of action or part thereof would arise cannot be contracted out by parties.