CJI Bobde has once again stoked up the debate that has been making its round amidst the legal fraternity, i.e. implementing AI in administration of justice. Speaking on the prospects and the technological exploits, CJI was clear in his stance by concretely marking the ambit AI, its future lies not in masquerading as a judge or a lawyer, but rather legally succouring them in the consummation of their objectives.
AI has been constantly seeping into our day to day affairs, slowly and unconsciously the legal world is also adopting AI. However, no elucidations exist as to why legal fraternity hosts a technophobic ethos. Integration of AI in Legal Field has been notoriously slow owing to the tradition-bound nature of this field, and also due to the myths and misconceptions coupled with technophobia that plagues this sector. Even the speech of CJI on Constitution Day reflected this fear when he repeatedly tried to advocate the usage of AI but in a very non-evasive way - "We have the possibility of developing Artificial Intelligence for the court system, only for the purpose of ensuring that undue delay is prevented in the delivery of justice." Much of the judicial delay is a result of the repetitive functions that the judiciary has to perform. One of the major concerns that is behind this unexplainable repulsion towards AI implementation is the threat of being replaced. However, every crusader for AI is aware of the universal truth that machines are not substitutes for the knowledge and wisdom of judges and that the law functions in a uniquely complex environment that lawyers and judges are best placed to navigate, rather than a program comprising of sentences of codes. The main intent is to seek and free up more time for lawyers and judges to focus on the delivery and dispensation of justice to all, rather than getting lost in the labyrinth of facts and figures.
The current judge to population ratio in India is 10 to 1 million. The Law Commission Report of 1987[i] recommended to have this ratio at least as 50 to 1 Million, and that too when the Indian population was twenty-five crore less[DPA1] [RSS2] . The implementation of AI would not affect this ratio numerically, but it would certainly affect the fasten the process. This means, that even though numerically the judge count would be the same, the actual potency would be far better and can help us to bridge this shortcoming. Moreover, the Indian Judiciary has scanty resources; India not only needs more courts, but also the modernization and computerization of the existing ones. Budgetary allocation for the whole judiciary is as low as 0.4% of the whole budget . There is also the malice of filing cases which are liable to be rejected at the threshold. The best way to deal with this problem is the implementation of AI to prevent the filing of similar such cases. This is possible if rules are made to introduce pre-filing AI-based checks, which would help identifying such fancy litigations, thus cases can be weeded out even before their entry into the legal system. Filing of cases can be digitalized by AI controlled portals, and the present e-filing implementation can be seen as a major step towards it. AI can be used for analyzing a document for its relevancy, and if found relevant it can be flagged and could similarly be used as standard to mine related and relevant files. Another potential use can be in the field of due diligence, where AI can help lawyers verify facts, data, etc. which their clients provide them. This verification can be done with great ease which otherwise would have been a tedious and time-consuming task.
"Technology makes the judicial process transparent, efficient, accountable and intelligible" [ii]said Justice D Y Chandrachud during a webinar organized by NYAYA Forum, NALSAR, Hyderabad. AI can never replace open courts and the virtual courts, which are a result of amalgamation of law and technology, and should not be seen as a replacement but rather as a solution for the present desperate times. "What I perceive for the future is a healthy mix between the uses of technology for court hearings in areas where we believe technology is well suited" Justice D Y Chandrachud added. In AI lies the future recourse because it has the potential to enhance justice system, act as an intrinsic system of rule of law and has the potential to transform justice from being a sovereign function to a service which can be availed by every citizen. However, the major hurdle in implementing this would be the issue of non-proficiency of Lawyers in technology related courting. This can only be addressed by a close and co-ordinated working of both, the Bar Association and the Judiciary, who can train the young lawyers and help them acquire this techno-legal acumen.
The legal community has passively resisted AI implementation because they view it as a threat to their existence. However, the evidence, from other industries and verticals such as e-commerce, healthcare, etc. are quite contrary and show that AI implementation will only enable lawyers and judges to be more productive than their predecessors. The law firms have also understood the potential edge that AI promises to provide and for the same law firms have taken the services of many AI companies to boost efficiency, accuracy, and speed. All this points to how AI could start from what is traditionally known as the "Bar" and then, in the long run, shall transition to "Bench" wherein the Judges utilize their power to gather the sum of the contentions of both parties and deduce which part contains merit as per the law and statues in question, that too with a glance on recent judgments along the same paradigm. It is also, contended that most AIs are US based and hence cannot adopt to common law country laws, which have judge-made laws and wider judicial discretion and are bound to give judgments which would differ greatly from traditional judgments. However, the same is not true as we are not contending to use AIs for judgments, but rather to facilitate in delivering them, thus in no way undermining judicial interpretation and discretion.
AI would potentially streamline courts caseloads through enabling better court management, while parallelly allowing us to shift the judicial time from routine-simple-straightforward matters and applying them to more complex-intricate matters that require more human attention and involvement, rather than just a few data interpretations. Thus, the amalgamation of AI and Law need not be hampered but rather catalysed. We need to understand that the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems. Justice is the ultimate objective we have sought to achieve. Whether it be social, economic, or political, we can ensure justice only if we continue to work tirelessly in securing it for the very last person in the remotest corner of the nation. The true aim of our forefathers, who gave us this independent land, could then only be accomplished; and at this moment AI implementation is key to solving this national issue of delayed justice.
(Mohd Rameez Raza is the Student (Law) at Faculty of Law, Integral University And Raj Shekhar is Student (Law) at NUSRL)
[i] Law Commission of India, Manpower Planning in Judiciary: A Blueprint, Report No. 120 (July 1987) http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/old_reports/rpt120.pdf.
[ii] Live Law News Network, Virtual Courts Cannot Fully Replace Open Court Hearings; Technology Can Make Justice System More Efficient & Accessible : Justice Chandrachud, LIVELAW (May 27, 2020, 10:07 PM) https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/virtual-courts-cannot-fully-replace-open-court-hearings-technology-can-make-justice-system-more-efficient-accessible-justice-chandrachud-157260?infinitescroll=1.
[DPA1]What is the new position
[RSS2]New Position is 19.66 per Million as per 2011 Census.