Evidence have great important in both civil and Criminal cases and major part of procedural law. Evidence is a mean of proof. There can be different kinds of evidence. Among these kinds, two major kinds of evidence are oral and documentary evidence. Sometimes evidence is established by producing or presenting documents before the court. The document so produced for the inspection of the court, is called documentary evidence. Two types of documentary evidence, first is public documents and second is Private documents.
2. Relevant Provisions
Articles 85 to 89 of Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984
3. Definition of Document
A document may be defined as “Document is any written things capable of being evidence” IT is immaterial on what the writing may be inscribed.
4. Public Document
The definition of Public documents does not define in Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984, it only provides a number of list of documents which are called public documents. So, following documents are considered public documents.
i. Sovereign authority
Documents, which are about act or records of act of sovereign authority (such as statutes, gazettes, proclamations and the like) are public documents.
ii. Official bodies and Tribunals
Documents, which are about acts or records of acts of official bodies and tribunals (such as records of courts of justice, Judgments, decrees, writ, warrants, bill etc) are public documents.
iii. Public officers
Documents, which are about acts or records of acts of public legislative, judicial and executive officers of any part of Pakistan or some foreign country, are public documents.
iv. Public Records of Private documents
When some documents are public records of private documents and these public records are kept in Pakistan, such public records are public documents.
v. Documents forming part of Judicial Proceedings
All the documents forming part of the records of judicial proceeding are regarded as public documents. Documents which were not copies of judicial record shall not be received in evidence without proof of signatures and handwriting of a person alleged to have signed or written them.
vi. Maintenance of documents by Public Servant
Documents, which some public servant is to maintain under any law (like Municipal register of death and birth) are a public documents.
vii. Registered Documents
Registered documents are public documents when their execution is not disputed.
Certificates are public documents when such certificate is deposited in a repository according to provisions of Electronic Transactions Ordinances, 2002.
5. Proof of Public Documents
Public documents may be proved by either ways,
By production of certified copies under Article 88 of Q.S.O 1984
The contents of the public documents or parts of the public documents may be proved by the production of certified copies. And other ways to mentioned in Article 89 of Q.S.O 1984.
6. Private Documents
The Q.S.O does not define the term “Private document” It only indicates that the documents which are not public documents are private documents.
In the eye’s or Article 86, Private documents simply define “Any documents prepared by any person or group of persons in his individual or collective capacity, is called a Private Documents.
Examples of Private Documents
Contract of sale, lease, mortgage deeds, power of attorney, etc. are some examples of private documents.
7. Proof of Private documents
Private documents can be proved either by the production of the original itself or by its copy. But the copy of private documents is only admissible in the evidence under the circumstances mentioned in Article 76 of the Q.S.O 1984 and not otherwise.
The proof of Private documents is subject to the general provisions of the act relating to the proof of documentary evidence contained in Article 82 to 84.
To conclude, it can be stated that an important principle of law of evidence is that documents speak more truth than men. Therefore, documentary evidence is preferred over oral evidence, and as far as public and private documents are concerned, public documents are preferred over private documents.