Doubtlessly, we live in the age of information technology and the developed nations are in the race to take maximum benefit out of it. But it is a painful reality that the current use of information technology in our judicial system is minimal. Our justice system massively relies upon paper filing and other outdated procedures. 

Time and again, the use of information technology in our administration of the justice system has become part of the agenda in high-powered meetings, but the pace of implementation is ruthlessly slow. With the advent of global information technology, electronic documents are being increasingly used in different developed countries such as the United States, Russia, and Singapore. 

Like many humble students of Political Science and Law, I wish that our courts utilise information technology techniques to change the justice and court system, which will have a domino effect on all aspects of the judicial system in the country. Indeed, the use of information technology within the judicial system offers ample advantages: 

Firstly, the use of information technology would allow the judicial system to become more open, transparent, fast, responsible, and user friendly. Secondly, it will strengthen public trust and confidence. Thirdly, it will create efficiency, as it improves access to justice and allows the computers to generate the manual and laborious work that clerical administrators attend to. 

This legal maxim is often quoted, “Justice delayed is justice denied”. In societies governed by the rule of law, gaining speedy access to the legal system is expected. The application of information technology in the judiciary can help improve access to justice by improving court procedures and practices, thereby minimising delays. 

Now is the perfect time to revolutionise our courts, investigation, prosecution, prison administration, among other procedures, through information technology. But the question arises: How IT-savvy are the policy framers responsible for bringing reform to the judicial system? Secondly, has the federal and provincial governments provided the necessary budget and skilled manpower to all the key stockholders because I know that many judicial officers, prosecutors, law officers, attorneys do not even have proper stenotypists. So much so, many training institutes and academies both at the federal and provincial level do not have the adequate IT experts because people placed at the helm of affairs in those organisations are allergic to the efficient and effective use of IT. Rationally speaking, as long as practical and pragmatic efforts are not put in practice it would take years to implement the maximum and effective use of IT in our stifled justice sector. 

How can we establish e-governance, e-courts, or e-justice when even the websites of most public sector organisations are either dysfunctional or undeveloped. 

HASHIM ABRO,  

Islamabad, September 2.