“The future of law is not to be found in impressive buildings or leather bound books but in small pieces of silicon; in streams of light; and in millions of miles of wires and cable.” – Katsh
Technological developments in the meadow of information and communication technology (ICT) and introduction of computers have made a turning point in the history of human civilization. It has brought about a change of tack in all fields of human activity and has resulted in enhanced efficiency, productivity and quality of output in every walk of life. Evolution in technology, particularly the growing use of internet, have created borderless “e-world” and paved the way for irresistible and unmatched changes in every phase of life, including justice. The information and communication technology (ICT) has been advocated in the developed countries for the last two or three decades and this scenario gained astounding thoughts to have technology combined in administration of justice.
ICT has an influential position to play in the modernization of justice, improving efficiency, transparency and effectiveness, and redesigning the judicial process to manage the delivery of justice. The use of ICT in this perspective may not only improve the efficiency and transparency of justice processes but also, enhance the interaction between citizens and public authorities. As a result, the concept of e-Judiciary comes in, and we should also keep in mind that e-Judiciary is not just about “e” or computers. Its basis is judiciary should be primarily concerned with providing justice to the citizens. It should fulfill what justice seekers demand from the system, that is, speedy less expensive, quality, corruption free justice. Principally, e-Judiciary is a process of modernizing judiciary that uses information and communication technology (ICT) for its proceeding to provide justice to people.
Typically, e-Judiciary consists of Case Management System, Information Management System and Court Automation System. This process generally goes this way in order:
• Registering cases
• Managing cases
• Hearing of cases and handling post hearing and report
Judiciary in Pakistan urgently needs re-engineering its course of action, modernize the use of its human resource and bring about change management by harnessing the potentiality of the available information and communication technology to its fullest extent. By using information and communication technology, an effective and efficient system of e-Judiciary can be develop and that system may possibly ensure that judiciary is accessible to all which is trusted by all and it is reliable to all.
The National Judicial Policy 2009 proposes to eradicate corruption and delays from the countrys judicial system, therefore, it is exceptionally significant for Pakistan to have well established e-judicial system on the pillars of speedy and transparent trial system in order to provide fair justice to the people. Although, Pakistan is a developing country as such, is not yet an advance in ICT innovations, but must not avoid the adoption of electronic method of justice delivery. The electronic methods will not only bring transparency, security of courts documents but also, swift dispensation of justice. Conversely, the successful implementation and adoption of electronic methods may be challenged by epileptic electric supply, network dysfunction, lack of IT skills, and absence of relevant legal framework. There are many other challenges to implement e-Judiciary in Pakistan as-well i.e.
• Lack of long term strategy
• No provision for linking technology with performance
• No effective planning for the development of skilled HR development in ICT
• Problems in attitude to manage the change
• Commitment not to the extent of expectation
Finally, the construction and maintenance of the modern justice system will need extensive preparation and determination. There are already successful precedents in various countries for the use of ICT in judicial system such as European e-Justice (https://e-justice.europa.eu/home.do), European e-Justice Portal (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/european-e-justice/portal/index_en.htm), Hong Kong Judiciary (http://www.judiciary.gov.hk/en/index/), Indian e-Courts (http://ecourts.gov.in/), Namibia Superior Courts (http://www.ejustice.moj.na/SitePages/Home.aspx) etc. Experience across the developed countries that have embarked on ICT in their justice systems show that ICT tools help to improve and develop the judicial process. For the reason, e-Justice should be a major priority for developing countries like Pakistan. Along with technological developments; institutional and social change within the judicial system should be considered, as well as the harmonization of laws to ICT. Moreover, the whole society has to keep up with the technological development. Social demand is as necessary as effective government determination to improve the administration of justice by ICT.
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