Chief Justice speech at the exhibition of Law and Justice Commission

Chief Justice speech at the exhibition of Law and Justice Commission

ISLAMABAD (APP): Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Monday addressing the participants of an exhibition said that there is a realisation that information technology can make a significant difference to improve service delivery.

He said that there has been an appreciable investment and effort in developing and applying information technology based solutions.

During the inaugural session of two-day exhibition to showcase the application of Information Technology to improve the quality of service delivery in the justice sector organized by the Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan, the chief justice shared report released by the LJCP, titled, Towards a National Policy and Strategy for the Application of Information Technology in the Justice Sector.

The chief justice said it is, however clear from the report that the application of information technology is limited to organisations, for example, the police or the judiciary. And within organisations, it is further limited to a number of functions or processes.

He stated that the report seeks to capture an overview of the state of information technology in our justice sector and the challenges and issues confronting the sector and organisations to effectively take advantage of the opportunities made possible by information technology.

In this sense, the development and use of information technology is piece meal and isolated, the CJP said.

He said in the absence of common standards and protocols, there has been very little attempt at integration and coherence with the Federal level, across provinces and within the provincial justice sectors, inter-organisationally and within organisations.

The application of information technology also varies from providing operational support such as a simple case flow management to capturing performance analytics. It is not much used as a transparency and accountability intervention or an aid for planning and decision-making management tool.

Discussing the challenges highlighted by the report, the CJP said "we need clarity on our goal and objectives, and be clear about the opportunities created by information technology for realizing such goals and objectives."

CJP Jamali said, "we must engage with the demand-side of the justice supply chain to understand citizens' justice needs and establish effective feedback mechanisms so that citizens have an opportunity to inform us about the quality of our service delivery and suggestions for improvement. One such feedback mechanism is public grievance redress system, which we can strengthen through information technology and tracking so that we are responding to citizens' complaints effectively.

The complaint data also provides valuable information, and without much additional cost, we can analyse the data to learn about the systemic challenges that need to be addressed to improve service delivery."

He observed that unlike the health or education sectors, the justice sector is a lot more complex and suffers from a weak information base and in order to improve our performance, measured against, for example, fair convictions, we need to appreciate the inter-dependent and multi-organisational nature of the sector.

Each separate organization, whether it be the police, the judiciary or the prosecution service, relies on the effective and efficient working of the other justice organisations to perform effectively and efficiently.

But there has been very little or no attempt to develop information technology based solutions to connect the backward and forward linkages such as the linkage between prosecution and the police, and prosecution and the judiciary. Nor has there been much effort to improve the quality of sector and organizational performance data and analysis that we capture, he added.

Given what we are now learning about the value of information and its uses, we need to strengthen the justice information base as a priority both for transparency and as a management and planning tool, he added.

"We need to therefore develop a common sector-wide understanding of why and what we require from information technology, a shared vision, based on the appreciation that we are operating in a multi-organisational and inter-dependent environment.

In order to improve performance, we need to focus on strengthening both our respective organisations and the sector. To my mind, we should aim to develop an integrated justice sector where a unique case file seamlessly moves through a common case-flow management system that is secure and yet transparent and accountable providing operational, performance, analysis and evaluation functionalities. For this purpose, we need to agree common standards and protocols.

At the same, we need to be able to learn from and engage with other non-justice sectors and organisations such as NADRA that can verify identity and documents and it can advise us about the benefits and challenges of what is now called "big data."

"We need to enhance our capacities for policy and planning based on performance information and data, rigorous analysis, and solutions that are effectively tested, monitored, evaluated and when necessary corrected", the Chief Justice said.

The chief justice tasked the Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan to improve its justice sector information and data sets.