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AI can streamline, speed up delivery of justice: CJI

By, New Delhi
Apr 14, 2024 06:30 AM IST

By leveraging AI-powered tools, courts can streamline administrative processes, reduce paperwork and expedite the resolution of legal disputes, the chief justice said

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents the next frontier of innovation that has the transformative potential to speed up and streamline justice delivery, Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud emphasised on Saturday while urging caution against AI’s indiscriminate use and systemic challenges.

CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud with Singapore Supreme Court Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (HT)
CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud with Singapore Supreme Court Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (HT)

In his opening remarks at the Indo-Singapore Judicial Conference, the chief justice highlighted how India’s vibrant technology ecosystem and rich legal heritage present opportunities for adopting technology within the judiciary. He underscored the significance of projects like the e-Courts project and the National Judicial Data Grid in digitising court processes and improving access to justice.

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“AI represents the next frontier of innovation, promising to revolutionise various domains with its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, recognize patterns, and make decisions with increasing autonomy,” he said. “In the legal sector, AI holds immense potential to transform the way legal professionals work, from enhancing legal research and case analysis to improving the efficiency of court proceedings.”

By leveraging AI-powered tools, courts can streamline administrative processes, reduce paperwork and expedite the resolution of legal disputes, the chief justice said. “This not only saves time and resources but also improves access to justice by reducing delays and backlogs in the court system,” he underlined.

At the same time, chief justice Chandrachud warned against a blanket embrace of AI in judicial processes, particularly in reaching a conclusion for a case. He referenced pioneering initiatives, such as justice Juan Manuel Padilla’s utilisation of AI to deliver a judgment in a Colombian court case and the Punjab and Haryana high court’s exploration of AI insights in a bail petition.

“These instances show that we cannot avoid the question of using AI in court adjudication. The integration of AI in modern processes including court proceedings raises complex ethical, legal, and practical considerations that demand a thorough examination. The use of AI in court adjudication presents both opportunities and challenges that warrant nuanced deliberation,” he added.

Addressing concerns surrounding AI, chief justice Chandrachud raised issues of potential errors, biases and ethical implications. “Without robust auditing mechanisms in place, instances of ‘hallucinations’ – where AI generates false or misleading responses – may occur, leading to improper advice and, in extreme cases, miscarriages of justice,” he warned.

Chief justice Chandrachud termed the impact of bias in AI systems, particularly when it comes to indirect discrimination, “a complex challenge”, adding that this form of discrimination occurs when seemingly neutral policies or algorithms disproportionately affect certain groups, thereby undermining their rights and protections.

He sounded yet another caution that AI may lead to the emergence of two-tiered systems where the poor may find themselves relegated to inferior AI-driven assistance while only affluent individuals or high-end law firms can effectively harness the capabilities of legal AI, perpetuating existing inequalities within the legal system.

However, justice Chandrachud went on to draw parallels with the music industry’s transformation where streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music challenged the dominance of traditional record labels.

“Similarly, in the legal domain, the adoption of AI might accentuate inequality by favouring those with access to advanced technology, but it also opens the door for new players and services, disrupting existing hierarchies,” stressed the chief justice, citing illustrations of the adoption of hybrid mode hearings by the Supreme Court of India that removed geographical barriers for litigants and lawyers.

The full realisation of AI’s potential thus hinges on global collaboration and cooperation and a concerted effort from stakeholders worldwide, transcending geographical and institutional boundaries, the judge said.

“Capacity building and training play a crucial role in ensuring the ethical and effective utilization of AI technologies. By investing in education and training programs, we can equip professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complexities of AI, identify biases, and uphold ethical standards in their use of AI systems. Additionally, capacity building initiatives can foster a culture of responsible innovation, where stakeholders prioritize the ethical implications of AI development and deployment,” he added.

Concluding his address, the chief justice advocated for responsible and ethical integration of AI in judicial systems, imploring the stakeholders to navigate the integration of AI with vigilance so that AI technologies serve to enhance, rather than undermine, the pursuit of justice for all.

“This paves the way for a future where technology empowers and uplifts every member of society, fostering inclusivity, innovation, and progress. Together, we shape a world where the promise of AI is realized for the betterment of humanity,” he maintained.

He also acknowledged the deep-rooted ties between India and Singapore. He lauded Singapore’s initiatives in leveraging technology to streamline legal processes, reduce paperwork, and enhance accessibility for citizens, citing examples such as online dispute resolution platforms and electronic filing systems.

The Supreme Courts of Singapore and India are both represented at the two-day conference on technology and judicial dialogue, which got underway on Saturday. Together with judges, jurists and specialists, Singapore’s chief justice Sundaresh Menon will be giving talks on a variety of subjects pertaining to AI and how it affects the legal system.

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