In democratic societies, hope is not merely a luxury for individuals; it is an essential collective asset for the general well-being of citizens. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the reserves of hope have been gradually depleting due to widespread distrust in both political and judicial establishments.
Available surveys and public opinion polls indicate a substantial erosion of confidence in key institutions. Against this backdrop, one ponders: can the Chief Justice of Pakistan serve as an agent for reigniting public hope?
Spearheading Technological Reforms in Judiciary
A potent avenue through which the Chief Justice could inject a sense of hope is by championing the digital transformation of Pakistan’s judicial system. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, the judicial process—from case management and pre-trial hearings to alternative dispute resolutions—could be streamlined and made more efficient.
Countries like China, Singapore, and Estonia have demonstrated how digitalization can facilitate swifter court processes while broadening citizen access to the judicial system. Closer to home, the Chief Court of Gilgit-Baltistan offers valuable insights into how a digitized judiciary can function effectively.
Promoting Transparency Through Legal Measures
The adoption of technology should be accompanied by a firm commitment to transparency. In this regard, the Chief Justice could enforce Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. This section mandates that all public bodies, inclusive of the Supreme Court, disclose specific categories of information proactively.
Since the Pakistan Information Commission has categorized all courts as public bodies, enforcing this act would be a significant step towards enhancing transparency and accountability within the system.
Setting a Transformative Precedent
The significance of these reforms extends beyond the judiciary. By pioneering these changes, the Chief Justice could set a transformative precedent for other governmental agencies to emulate.
When the Supreme Court takes proactive measures, it clears the path for other federal and provincial bodies to adopt similar reforms, thereby contributing to a more transparent and efficient government as a whole.
In conclusion, the Chief Justice of Pakistan holds the potential to be a beacon of hope for a nation disenchanted with its institutions. By spearheading reforms like the digitization of the judiciary and enforcing existing laws on transparency, the Chief Justice could make a considerable contribution to restoring public trust.
If effectively implemented, these initiatives could echo throughout the entire landscape of governance in Pakistan, thus breathing new life into our collective hope for a better future.
Dr Murtaza Khuhro, Retired Civil Servant and Advocate at the High Court [email protected]
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023