Seeking an honest judicial system
Akhtar Ali Kureshi
It is not so simple and easy to become an advanced country as it takes centuries to achieve such a fascinating status. Our beloved country is facing rather fighting on various fronts leading towards its survival and if survived, Inshalah, may attain its real destiny of rich and prosperous Pakistan providing equal and fair opportunities to all. Numerous barriers and technicalities are involved, including the visionary leadership who takes Pakistan on the revolutionary track with enthusiastic passion.
One main obstacle to achieve such noble cause is corruption heavily penetrated in our society, particularly in our judicial system which needs to be addressed right now. Various drastic steps have already been taken and further being taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan including the vital source of reforms and instantly relief giving action called "Judicial Policy" widely appreciated by the public at large. In order to achieve this excellent position we have to appoint honest and credible judges and create an up to the mark judicial system having real check and balance system based on digitalization and computer networking.
Veracity is the most significant obligation of a judicial system and it is essential to produce honest judges in the system. An honest man usually considered terribly a bad judge, similarly a known bad judge is found to be very honest judge and a man of principals in both cases there is some disturbing issues. Honesty is a path of righteousness by virtue of inherent nature and inclination, a human being chooses the path of virtue only out of fear or having a strong system of check and balance which normally lacking in our judicial system since its beginning and no persistent situation arrived in the past to introduce the most needed and essential ingredients.
Although it is equally applicable in case of persons in any other field or profession, but here we may take the case of judicial system only. One should not overlook or under estimate this basic system it has the roots of making a civilised society and purpose to live a peaceful life. The judiciary is also the third significant organ of a welfare state empowering to do justice and maintain a fair atmosphere in the country.
Our judicial system is lacking various basic infrastructure to heal the wounds of the society like shortage of judges at almost every level, non-transparent system of their induction, bleak terms and conditions of their service i.e. salary package and security of service. We may categorized the issues into two folds, the first relates to the judges whereas second one relates to the litigants who are at the receiving end and received much less as deserve highest. On the issue of judges ample work is being done and likely to be done in the near future. However, litigants are most helpless party.
In order to make an effective system and curtail the miseries of the litigants we have to introduce a corruption-free judicial system which serves the public instantly and cheaply. It is mandatory to establish a computerized judicial system where every thing of the court and litigants are available on the website of the High Court or the court concerned and implementation of the court's order is only and only through computer networking. For example, bail order/release order or stay order or any such like court's order, etc. should be sent through email to the relevant authority and verify through the same or such order may also be seen on the web. The litigant has absolutely no need to apply for a certified copy of the order/judgment waiting for many days or weeks and give bribe to expedite the process. Through this purposeful website the fellow litigants will escape from blackmailing of lawyer's clerk, almad, copy branch, office complications, waste of money, mental agony and he will secure the instant and inexpensive justice without spending further penny while sitting at home or in the office.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has already provided this great facility and almost 70 percent of Supreme Court's work is on web except judgments and only important judgments are available on the website. However, it is essential to place all the judgments on the web so that litigants and departments may read or copy or verify from the SC's website.
Similarly, the same pattern of the SC may be followed by all High Courts and its subordinate courts. This exercise is being observed throughout the world and majority of litigants feeling comfortable by knowing the progress and fate of their case from anywhere in the world and at any time.
The High Courts have already developed their respective websites but its benefits are so small in nature and not purposeful. For example, the Lahore High Court is pioneer in introducing its website in the late 1990s but unfortunately it is never improved or more information is added regarding the cases or other functions even the meetings of Chief Justice, orders, press releases, notifications and circulars are not available on the website. It could be done through a simple administrative order without requiring any financial assistance from the government.
As the main reason of corruption and lethargic attitude of court's staff has been identified, therefore this is the only solution to decrease the miseries of litigants that Chief Justice of Pakistan may pass an appropriate order or direction to install and complete the computerization and networking of the courts and system of e-filling within shortest period of time in all the High Courts, its subordinate courts and government departments, particularly jail department, etc. while considering it as a last resort to control corruption. Needless to mention here that the funds of the Asian Development Bank for the programme of "Access to Justice" for this purpose have gone waste as we see zero improvements in the judicial system.
The writer is an Advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Law Professor, Freelance Columnist, Member of International Bar Association, London and former Assistant Advocate General Punjab