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KARACHI: Lawyers and litigants curiously gossiped inside the packed courtroom of the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry, as the judicial proceedings in the country’s top court were about to begin in an unconventional way on Monday.

On the raised platform, the judges’ traditional large chairs were still unfilled though the judicial proceedings that begin at 8:30am as a matter of routine had already been delayed by half-an-hour.

Judicial staffers murmured in the ears of the IT officials who hurriedly connected the camera placed on the rostrum and a large LCD screen in a corner of the courtroom.

Suddenly everyone stood up as a gesture of respect when Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa with his two fellow judges appeared on the large TV screen connected to the newly installed system at the apex court’s principal seat in Islamabad.

Lawyers want e-court project scope be extended to circuit benches of high courts

When the judges were seen to have settled in their seats, court reader Syed Zafar Ali Shah started calling cases one by one fixed for hearing at SC’s Karachi registry, some 1,450 kilometres from the apex court in Islamabad.

This is how the country’s top court successfully launched the e-court system through video-conferencing which was described as a historic revolutionary step in the judicial history of Pakistan to ensure dispensation of speedy justice to the masses. On the first day, the judges heard five criminal cases through the video-conferencing system. The bench would continue to hear matters fixed at the SC Karachi registry till May 31.

“I think, this (e-court system) would largely be helpful for the litigants,” said Advocate Mohammad Yousuf Leghari after pleading the first­ case through the e-court system.

“Firstly, this will help litigants and lawyers whose cases are fixed at the registry branches in Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar save their money that they would have spent on travelling to Islamabad,” he said.

“Secondly, it will also bind the lawyers to plead their long-pending cases from the registry branches,” the 74-year-old counsel added.

Mr Leghari said the e-court project should also be extended to circuit benches of the high court to help litigants in different cities get speedy justice.

Other lawyers also shared similar views and appreciated the initiative taken by the top judge as a revolutionary step towards ensuring quick disposal of the cases and swift dispensation of justice to the masses.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2019