The announcement by Lahore High Court Chief Justice (CJ) Muhammad Qasim Khan on digitisation of the judicial system in the province will be well received by both the legal fraternity and common people alike. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the woes of litigants who are suffering even greater delays and hurdles in access to justice. Such initiatives are long overdue, but better late than never. The process will take some time to be implemented fully as there are several concerns regarding transparency and effectiveness that need to be considered.

The use of online services for filing of petitions and correspondence between judges and lawyers will ensure quick communication. Most importantly, it will keep courtrooms from being unnecessarily crowded, saving concerned parties from needless exposure. A quicker process will allow the judiciary to deal with the massive backlog of pending cases. As pointed out by Prime Minister Imran Khan a few days back, the common people have little faith left in the judicial system. Swift justice is a right of every citizen; a right that has been denied since the country’s inception. Legal loopholes as well as procedural and capacity issues have resulted in incredible delays and denial of rights. Lawyers too must share responsibility for the crisis because they are the ones who exploit the system to stand in the way of justice.

Perhaps this initiative will help in the dispensation of justice to some extent, but more needs to be done to change the legal culture of the country. Judges can only accomplish so much; the rest of the legal fraternity will have to step up to bring about desirable change. Other provinces should also begin the initiative taken in Punjab so they too can bring relief to citizens. Faith in the country’s judicial system must be restored to strengthen rule of law and ensure protection of human rights.