The 21st century has witnessed tremendous technological developments in different fields throughout the world.
There has been enhanced proficiency, productivity, and transparency and has also reduced red-tape and corruption in organisations. With the passage of these significant changes, the whole world has already entered into the digitalisation process in every possible stage of human life.
In Bangladesh, the government has launched e-governance in almost every organ within it.
The judiciary has also taken some initiatives to launch the digitalisation process of the entirety of court proceedings.
A well-functioning judiciary is a crucial determinant of a country’s economic performance. In Bangladesh, the digitalisation of courts, primarily with an aim to remove the backlog of cases, will make the justice process swift and keep it abreast with the fast-moving world, started in 2009.
The digitalisation of the court process is popularly known as e-judiciary system in most countries of the world. In this era of modernisation, the world is completely based on ICT, and people are desperate to get their disputes solved within a few minutes.
They are not willing to waste even a single moment unnecessarily. It is said that there has been continuous pressure for our judiciary system to resolve court proceedings within a very short time by the use of online functions.
Considering people’s demand, the judiciary of Bangladesh is also modernising its system by subscribing to new tools of technology. The first step has been taken jointly by the Supreme Court and Bangladesh Computer Council in 10 Districts under a pilot project.
If the e-judiciary system becomes effective, the trial seekers would be able to know about the court proceedings and verdict of cases by mobile phone while staying at home.
And the people concerned with the trial process, between the higher court and the lower court, could also complete their activities quickly by collecting information related to the cases.
Besides, the system will help to preserve records of the old cases and its verdicts.
The system would also introduce an online case management system; which is more advanced than the present case management system.
In our higher judiciary, mobile phone applications have already been launched, which allow lawyers and litigants to get updates about cases on their mobile phones.
These app users are able to search for cases using individual case numbers, party names, respondent names, and names of the advocates.
If the e-judiciary system becomes effective, the trial seekers would be able to know about cases by mobile phone while staying at home
Users can also check the daily cause list (schedule of cases to be heard by the courts on the following days).
Besides, the Supreme Court has also introduced online bail system, preserving information relating to cases, introduction of search tools, case sms service, and online complaint service. In Sylhet District Court, digital recording of deposition system will be introduced soon.
This not only facilitates lawyers and litigants, but also eases the workload on clerical staff.
However, officials of the judiciary should be mindful that the online case management system is not the end, but rather the start of the journey towards an e-judiciary system. The other step should be digitalisation of the entire case record room. Records can be computerised and cases can be allotted tracking numbers to be traced online.
The current process of copying case files involves the physical movement of files from one office to another -- which can impact the sanctity of the file, and is time consuming as well.
All over the world, legal practice has become more technologically advanced and Bangladesh’s judiciary system needs to catch up.
The aim of the separation of judiciary from executive was also to eliminate corruption and delays from the country’s judicial system. The use of IT in the courts was recommended to help achieve these objectives.
It is high time to introduce a complete e-judiciary system in the entire country to increase efficiency, speed up the process, and to reduce stock piles of cases.
This will not only stamp out corruption from within the judiciary, but will also improve our justice system.
Syed Mohammad Abu Sayeed is a PhD Researcher, Institute of Bangladesh Studies (IBS), University of Rajshahi.