PESHAWAR: A senior lawyer has proposed the establishment of e-courts in the Peshawar High Court and district courts across the province for the disposal of cases during the outbreak of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

In a letter sent to PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel said e-courts would save lawyers, judges, litigants and court staff members from contracting the virus.

He suggested the development of a mobile app and software for the production of scanned documents related to cases by lawyers and litigants, payment of court fee, and hearing into civil and criminal cases and bail pleas by video link.

Lawyer writes to PHC CJ saying facility to benefit both litigants, their counsel

The lawyer also called for the establishment of special benches with video link facility.

He said the mobile app could be connected with Nadra records for the verification of the computerised national identity cards of litigants and with KP Bar Council records for the verification of licences of the relevant counsel.

Mr Kakakhel said the e-court facility would help lawyers earn livelihood by filing and pleading cases from home or office.

He said the nationwide courts had almost stopped working due to the outbreak of Covid-19 as only most urgent petitions were fixed and heard by the benches of high courts and subordinate courts.

The lawyer said that the chief justice had directed duty judges in districts to hear bail applications and cases related to stay orders but the lawyers handling cases of child and women’s rights had noticed that their clients had been denied rights, including the one to maintenance by the husband or father, due to suspension of routine work due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

He said some applications for interim maintenance had been pending with the courts for years.

Mr Kakakhel said the coronavirus-induced crisis had adversely affected businesses, while the rights of women and children had also been neglected due to the suspension of routine work.

He requested the high court’s chief justice to direct the relevant staff members of subordinate courts across the province to launch e-courts, e-submissions and e-hearing facilities for the relief of lawyers and litigants.

The lawyer added that the evidence could be recorded by videoconferencing by lawyers, witnesses and prisoners, which would help dispose of the pending cases, which were stopped due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

He said as the livelihood of lawyers, especially juniors, and hundreds of their clerks and allied staff was badly affected, the e-setup, which had already been established in the courts, could be utilised to allow litigants to get speedy justice and feed families of lawyers.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020