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Chief Justice of Pakistan’s speech on Information Technology Exhibition and Seminar

Islamabad, August 30, 2016 (PPI-OT):Hon. Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

Hon. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Azad and Jammu Kashmir

Hon. Chief Justice of the Chiefs Court of Gilgit-Baltistan

Hon. Chief Justice of the High Courts

Hon. Judges of the High Courts

Hon. Parliamentarians

The Learned Attorney General for Pakistan

Hon. State Officials

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Assalam-o Alaikum

1. At the outset, I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to all the participants and speakers who have very kindly made the effort to be a part of the exhibition and seminar to share their experiences and achievements with key stakeholders and the general public. In addition to engaging with each to other as State institutions and service providers, we need to share our efforts with the general public to demonstrate both achievements and attempts to improve our service delivery. It serves to strengthen public confidence in State institutions.

2. I am pleased to share with you our recent report released by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, titled, Towards a National Policy and Strategy for the Application of Information Technology in the Justice Sector. It is the first such report that 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.

3. As evidenced by the exhibition and the report compiled by the Commission, there is a realisation that information technology can make a significant difference to improve service delivery. Hence, there has been an appreciable investment and effort in developing and applying information technology based solutions.

4. 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. In this sense, the development and use of information technology is piecemeal and isolated. 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.

5. A number of issues and challenges are highlighted by the report. Firstly, we need clarity on our goal and objectives, and be clear about the opportunities created by information technology for realizing such goals and objectives. What is it that we are seeking to do by employing information technology? What is the problem or problems that we are trying to solve to improve sector and organisational performance?

6. Firstly, I am not sure that we are clear about the real underlying problems that are hindering our service delivery. To my mind, the first question relates to what are the precise justice needs that we should be addressing. We have never seriously asked this question as evidenced by the fact that we have never conducted a justice needs survey. In the national census, there is no question relating to access to justice. Consequently, there is no baseline for justice needs and in the absence of such a baseline we cannot effectively plan, prioritise and evaluate our service delivery.

7. A slight digression but I feel it pertinent to mention here, that 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.

8. Moving from the demand-side, we also need a better understanding of the justice sector supply-side. Hence, we need to begin by conducting a diagnostic study such as a value chain analysis that critically examines our organisational activities and processes against our mandate and the value we are actually generating and seeking to generate for our clients and citizens. Ultimately, the test for what we are doing is how well we are addressing citizens’ justice needs.

9. Although the report maps the “functions” or processes that have been “automated”, it observes that within organisations automation is not well mainstreamed with other functions and institutionalized through necessary amendments to operational rules and procedures. At best, the gains risk being compromised, and in the worse case scenario, the expected benefits are lost. The risk is that good reform investments will not sustain after the main driving force, whether that be the circumstances or an individual’s dedication and commitment, is no longer there to push the reform. We therefore need to integrate information technology based solutions within the wider organization and where appropriate the sector so that we are drawing on mutually reinforcing processes and procedures.

10. Unlike the health or education sectors, the justice sector is a lot more complex and suffers from a weak information base. 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. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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. It can also advise us about the benefits and challenges of what is now called “big data”. Similarly, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority can advise us on the possibility of devising solutions based on mobile telephony and smart phones. Our police services have already developed solutions such as geo-tagging and hot-spotting to capture crime scenes and identify crime trends and profiles. We also need to draw on the talents and skills of academia. I am very sure that with our combined efforts, mobilizing both public and private sector resources and talents, we can develop information technology based solutions that are effective and efficient as demonstrated by many interventions that have been exhibited by our stakeholders.

13. A key is challenge is our ad hoc, presumptive and may be intuitive manner of planning evidenced by the absence of strategic plans, roadmaps for change. 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. To this end, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan has been formally tasked to improve its justice sector information and datasets. It is also encouraging to see the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa technology boards creating “labs” to test their solutions and then replicating them, demonstrating a more rigorous approach to reform.

14. To this end, it is crucial that we deliberately break the institutional and organisational “silos” that hinder effective collaboration and to move towards a collaborative “joined up” governance model where institutions and organisations are openly sharing information and learning from each other. Moreover, given the complex nature of the justice sector, without a collaborative approach, we will not be able to work effectively on the justice supply chain to improve service delivery. The Provincial Justice Committees, comprising the heads of the different justice sector departments and organisations are based on a joined-up collaborative approach model.

15. Further, in view of our limited financial and technical resources, we need to encourage wider collaboration between the public, private and civil society sectors to effectively utilize local capital and expertise. We are therefore looking forward to the Provincial Justice Committees taking a proactive lead to develop a strategy or a roadmap for the application of information technology in the justice sector. And as such, we hope they will engage with the different sectors to capitalize on their available expertise, partnering with the private and civil society sectors to devise suitable solutions. In this manner, we can ensure value for money and the multiplier effect.

16. Once again, I thank you for your time and patience, and must admit, that I am impressed by the efforts to enhance the quality of service delivery in the justice sector. But to be systematic and rigorous in our endeavours, we must move towards developing a national policy and strategy for the application of information technology in the justice sector led by the respective Provincial Justice Committees.

Thank you.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 9204184, 9220581
Fax: +92 51 9213452
Email: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

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