Woman sues Judicial Services Commission for delaying her divorce  

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By Staff Reporter

A Zimbabwean woman has dragged the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to court after failing to file divorce summons at the High Court using the newly introduced e-system.

The woman who is being represented by Shadreck Masike with support from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the unfriendly Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) is now forcing her to stay in a marriage she is no longer interested in.

Recently the JSC compelled all litigants to exclusively use the IECMS for filing of court processes and conducting hearings in the country’s superior courts.

To use this, litigants or users need gadgets such as laptops, computers, tablets, smartphones, adequate and stable internet connectivity and need to be registered and to be trained on how to use the IECMS.

This has sparked a wide uproar and created chaotic scenes at the High Court.

The woman said this violates fundamental rights which include the right to a fair hearing, the right to access to justice and the right to equal benefit and protection of the law.

“The aggrieved woman was advised by the Registrar of the High Court that all superior courts in Zimbabwe including the High Court no longer accept the physical filling of hard-copy pleadings and instead all filings and hearings were now being done electronically on the IECMS platform.

“The woman was told that as a self-actor, she should cause the summons to be issued out through logging onto the IECMS platform, which requires not only a compatible electronic device but a steady access to and connection of internet service as well.

“To this end, the woman was directed to the IECMS hub to be assisted, only to experience a crowd of people waiting to be assisted including legal practitioners, whom she was told take precedence and this forced her to leave the High Court without getting the opportunity to be assisted,” said ZLHR in a statement.

The woman argues in her application that she was hamstrung to institute her divorce summons because she does not own a compatible device nor does she have funds to secure a steady supply and connection to the internet to pursue her matter to its completion including not being conversant with manoeuvring the IECMS platform.

She further argued that a virtual court session is not a public trial or hearing and hence falls foul of the provisions of the Constitution.

She wants Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, together with JSC are cited as respondents in the court application, to be ordered to reinstate the traditional physical filing of pleadings and physical hearings so that it co-exists with the IECMS platform in a manner that will not infringe fundamental human rights.

She also wants the High Court to declare the exclusive use of the IECMS platform in all court processes in the country’s superior courts as unconstitutional.