The history of information technology, at the Balochistan High Court, is an exciting process from the use of computers in the late 90's as mere word processors, to the implementation of an automation plan in 2010-2012. Presently 110 computers have been installed in all departments in the High Court building.
In 2009, 2010 Telephone Exchange (EPABX) lines along with an intercom system were installed which facilitated communication.
The basic infrastructure has also been developed and strengthened in the last three years. This includes access to the internet as well as networking individually of all courts in Quetta, and 90% of courts across the province.
Back Up Power Supply
All courts have been provided with generators to operate as a possible backup power supply. Server computers have also been installed in the High Court of Balochistan and Sessions Court, Quetta.
Connecting via Email
In 2012, for the first time an official email address using the domain of the High Court of Balochistan i.e. "bhc.gov.pk" was created for the Honourable Judges and other branches of the High Court and Sessions Divisions in the whole of Balochistan. The official email address of the High Court of Balochistan is "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Automation allows presentation of available data in a format that is extremely helpful in the organization of information. This includes for example, a Human Resource Management System, a Library Information System, a Case Flow Management System for the High Court and Sessions Court in Quetta which were installed after June 2011.
To assist in the collection and presentation of the required information, several programs have been developed and installed in the last three years:
Case Flow Management System
In November 2011, with the collaboration of the Sindh High Court, a Case Flow Management System was installed in the High Court of Balochistan. Thereafter, all the different branches, including the presentation branch, the judicial branch, the roster branch, the copying branch and the record branch were computerized in terms of case management.
To make this whole process easier to understand let us begin at the point of entry of a case:
A case first enters the High Court at the Presentation Branch. Documents presented/attached are checked, and if there is need of more documentation or there is any defect, the litigant/lawyer is informed. A ‘diary number' is allocated and entered with basic information on the case. The diary number with the case file (hard copy) is then sent on to the judicial branch.
The Judicial Branch then studies the particulars of the case. This is possible by using the diary number to access pertinent information on the server, as well as through the hard copy of the documents it receives of the case from the Presentation Branch. It then allocates a number to the case, after determining the type of case it is, where after it is sent on to the Roster Branch.
In the Roster Branch the case is fixed for a certain date before a particular court, as per the predetermined roster seating as approved by the Honourable Chief Justice. At this point the ‘cause list' is generated.
After each hearing of the case, the case file is sent to the Judicial Branch, which reads the order sheet to ascertain if anything is required to be done, such as issuance of notices, etc. The judicial branch also fixes the next date of hearing.
If a litigant/advocate wants a certified copy of any order or judgment passed by the court, he submits an application to theCopying Branch.
The Copying Branch enters all the particulars of the person who wants a certified copy along with case particulars and then checks (from the data already entered by other departments) where the case file is, whether in the in Judicial Branch (SB or DB section) or the Record Branch or elsewhere. Once the file is located a certified copy is made of the order/judgment and the same is issued to the applicant.
Once the final judgment is announced the case file is sent to the Judicial Branch, which complies with any directions contained in the order/judgment that require to be complied with and then sends the file to the Record Branch for safekeeping.
All relevant information about cases is available at the Information Kiosk. Advocates and the general public may check the status of their case and the court the same is fixed for hearing. The Sibi bench of the High Court of Balochistan is also connected with the said system and one may follow the same procedure.
Case Management System (CMS)
In 2012, specific software was developed and implemented at the District and Sessions court, Quetta, to prevent the duplication of cases. The software stores basic information of all cases presented at the District and Sessions court. Thereafter it proceeds to compare the basic information of every new case with the already existing stored information. If there is a match, the computer will generate and send an alert to the operator. The operator then proceeds to compare the cases and if in the event of any similarity, the operator then marks the second case as duplicate and sends this to the District and Sessions judge for further order.
This software also enables easy access to information regarding:
the number of cases that have been instituted
the number of cases which have been decided
the number of cases pending
Library Information System (LIS)
In December 2011, software was developed and installed in the High court library which facilitated record keeping and management of the available resources. Twenty four Libraries (internet connection available) have been setup in many of the District and Sessions Division of Balochistan. The PLJ Law Site, an online law library, is now available to all the said libraries to facilitate lawyers and Judges of the District and Sessions courts. This also enable them to keep abreast of the latest developments in the law and the judiciary in Pakistan.
Human Resource Management (HRMS) System
In 2012, a system was developed for the Administration Branch which enables the storing and retrieval of bio-data and postings of all judicial officers and staff of the High court, and District courts in the province.
Case Management System (CMS)
In 2012, software was developed for the District Court, Quetta to help the administrative judge. This enables a judge to mark cases under his control and jurisdiction, in a clear and organized manner. This system also ensures that no duplicate case is entertained by comparing the National Identity Card, the POR Card (Proof of Registration of Afghan Nationals, issued by NADRA), the POC Card (Pakistan Origin Card), etc.
Data Management System (DMS)
In 2012, software was developed and installed for the Data Section of the High court. The software facilitates storage of day to day data about cases, and prints fortnightly reports which are then sent to the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC).
Photostat Management System (PMS)
In 2012, software was developed to keep a record of the daily official photocopies printed in the Photostat Section of the court. This facilitates a report on usage of each department, chamber and court.
GP Fund Management System
In 2012, software was developed for Accounts Branch of the court. This software stores the GP fund contribution of the employees of this court.
Computerized Service Cards/Gate Pass
In 2012, a new computerized service card /gate pass was introduced made on PVC paper, which is a long lasting card like the CNIC made by NADRA. These cards are issued for five years to the staff of the High court and District judiciary.
Biometric Attendance System (BAS)
In August 2012, a biometric attendance system was installed in the High Court of Balochistan. This system facilitates taking entry and exit (attendance) of staff through fingerprinting. A report is printed daily and sent to the registrar for further consideration.
E-Copy System (ECS)
In 2013, an E-Copy system was developed. This system prevents the possibility of typographic errors made by the Copying Branch as they make certified copies of the orders/judgments. Once a judgment or a short order has been dictated and signed by the Honourable judge, the private secretary and its personal assistant uploads the same to a server in the computer department. The Copying Branch then goes directly to the server to obtain a copy of the same thereby reducing the possibility of any typographic error.
The prime motto of the IT department of the High Court of Balochistan is easy access to Justice. This includes access by judges, litigants, advocates and the general public. For the said purpose, a website has been developed to provide the aforesaid information. This link will facilitate access to justice in several ways, e.g. by establishing a case enquiry point with the intention of providing current status of a case through a case tracking system, publishing judgments and cause lists of the High Court of Balochistan and its circuit bench Sibi on the website as well as all District and Sessions courts in the province.
The reconstruction of any judicial record which may be damaged or lost in innumerable ways involves a difficult and cumbersome procedure due to non-availability of authentic and certified copies of the lost proceedings. To overcome this problem, a system of record preservation on CD was introduced. Since January 2007, almost 741993 pages of 9012 case files (civil cases) from the years 1987 to 2006 have been scanned and stored in CDs. Each CD is allocated a code and it contains an index of the file preserved. No tempering is possible since both the CD and the hard disk use images that cannot be altered. It is also cost effective and approximately 85 to 100 cases can be preserved on each CD.
Archiving of old Cases/Electronic Judgments may be used as a source to provide certified copies to judges, lawyers and the general public by keeping the current judgments in a safe and secure format. This enables easy, fast and low cost access to the dictum of the superior court in the province.
90% of staff members from BPS-05 to BPS-17 at the High Court of Balochistan, Quetta as well as subordinate courts in the province have been trained in IT skills enabling them to operate available computers. The training includes Windows, Word, Excel, Inpage and the use of the Internet for research purposes as well email to communicate as required. Judicial Officers in the province have also attended Basic Computer Orientation training sessions.
Training of staff members is an ongoing process. As the world of IT evolves, the IT department at the High Court of Balochistan makes it their goal, to keep pace with the changes and to continue to update and train officers.