AI OPENING NEW HORIZONS IN LEGAL PROFESSIONS
This article is written by Saloni Neema and Shashank Mohan, Law students from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam.
As humbly stated by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, “Technology is of relevance in so far as it promotes- efficiency, transparency and objectivity in public governance”.
Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is a stepping stone in the realm of Indian legal system. India has a long history that has seen many changes, but the basic structure mostly remains affirmed. In recent decades, AI-driven innovations and technologies have been embraced not only by companies but also by governments around the world.
AI is changing the way lawyers think, the way they conduct business and the way they interact with clients. In January 2017, the state of Florida became the first state to mandate technology training as part of its continuing legal education curriculum. Indian law firms are also getting themselves acquainted with the possible application of AI to enhance their work management with firms like Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas having already collaborated with start-ups to adopt AI-based solutions. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has thrown nearly every sector of the world into disarray, the judicial system has not been exempted as it has faced even greater obstacles which in turn has had a huge impact on the principle of “access to justice”.
APPLICATION OF AI IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEGAL FIELD
Since its inception, the Indian judiciary has struggled with the backlog of cases. According to sources, the Indian judiciary has 60,444 cases pending in the Supreme Court, 4.8 million cases in several High Courts, 33.8 million cases in district courts as of 1st July 2020. The implementation of AI could aid Indian Courts in case management and speedy resolution of problems such as case filing, evidence collection and investigations among other things.
The Shanghai Intelligent assistive-case handling system is being used as a tool for judicial reform. It handles procedures of criminal cases like online case filing, investigation, approval for an arrest using a profoundly developed AI system established for judicial scrutiny. Gurugram based Legal kart is an Artificial intelligence-powered technology that links clients with the best lawyers in their region. Clients can easily use real-time updates, information sharing, and support for their convenience. It claims to hold India’s first practice management scheme for lawyers and aims to change the way lawyers handle their cases. That being said even corporate firms are using AI for workload management, restructuring billing methods, better client coordination and reducing the paperwork to a great extent.
AI ROLE IN PRO-BONO AND LEGAL AID
In India, citizens are guaranteed free legal aid under Article 39A of the Constitution of India (“Constitution”). On the contrary, the National Judicial Data Grid shows that around 53% of civil and criminal cases filed in Indian courts remained unresolved even after 2 years.
Taking the data into cognizance the Government is taking initiatives to digitize legal aid services. Recently, the Supreme Court E-committee chaired by Justice D Y Chandrachud while releasing E-court App manual said: “technology should not just be an interim measure but to transform our legal system to make it more efficient, inclusive, accessible and environmentally sustainable”. Under this backdrop, E-court Projects enabled tech-based court management the Tele Law portal, Nayay Mitra or friends of law for resolving cases pending for more than ten years and web based Pro Bono legal services where lawyers can register to handle pro bono cases.
Legal advice has also been digitized around the world due to advances such as artificial intelligence-enabled chat bots like DoNotPay, cloud-based customer and Practice management applications like Clio, and online dispute resolution platforms like Rechtwijzer. These platforms seek to resolve discrepancy in legal expertise by delivering reliable legal information, reducing dispute resolution costs, and improving legal service delivery efficiently.
AI AT LOGGERHEADS WITH EXISTING LAWS
Many individuals have raised their concerns on the effects of AI on human rights. “The Toronto Declaration on the Protection of the Right to Equality and Nondiscrimination in Machine Learning Systems, of 2018” (“Toronto Declaration”) is the foremost step. The Toronto Declaration was hailed as the “first step” in making human rights system one of the cornerstones of data ethics and AI. However, hitherto, the debates around AI have solely been focused on “ethical” guidance, with no focus on any rights-based or legal context.
RIGHT TO PROTECTION AGAINST EXPLOITATION, ABUSE, AND DISCRIMINATION
The use of AI in the criminal justice system could lead to prejudice. Law enforcement officers should not base their decisions to prosecute or charge anyone solely on AI-based evidence, since the algorithm could have biases against religion, gender, ethnicity, or sex.
For example the criminal justice system of the United States has started to use computers to predict suspected offenders. Many academicians have argued that such software is biased towards people of color. Article 15 of the Constitution, requires the state to forbid discriminatory practices. It would be interesting to observe how technological advances in AI will be in consonance with our fundamental rights. Firms with the financial independence and expertise to embrace this innovative technology will prosper greatly than existing firms that are cash-stripped. This will result in income disparity.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION
In the age of digital technology, information is the new gold and it must be protected. Data security is a legal framework that safeguards personal information and guarantees that the same must not be abused or exploited when we offer data to third parties and businesses. Therefore to exercise the right to privacy enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, data protection is necessary. In the Landmark case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy as an integral part of the right to life and personal liberty which also includes an online right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Since there is currently no regulation in place to protect a person’s privacy and digital records, AI tech might use this information to forecast our behavior which in turn leads to increase in fraudulent activities necessitating the enactment of stringent legislation to combat the issue.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF AI
The question of accountability of AI has taken a center stage. Stakeholders and governments are dwelling over various circumstances under which the AI can be held responsible. Some of the areas of concerns are accountability of Automated Driving System (“ADS”) or driverless cars driven by AI technology in cases of damages caused to person or property, application of strict liability or absolute liability of the manufacturer of machines run by AI, the liability of automated weapon systems where AI is applied, in situations where destruction is caused due to technical glitch and accountability of AI based judicial decisions amounting to unethical and immoral public policy.
AI AND ITS POSSIBLE REGULATION: A GLOBAL COMPARISON
The Australian government provided clarity regarding ADS, the policy suggests an assurance of a legal entity that can be held responsible for its operating system and establish pertinent legal obligations that may be beneficial for users of automated vehicles. Whereas China has issued a set of specific trail and testing procedures ensuring provincial level implementation. As far as India is concerned the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has said that they would not allow driverless cars in India as it can take away jobs and worsen the plight of unemployed people.
The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs committee proposed that autonomous AI be designated as “Electronic person”. As a result, they will be held accountable for their mistakes rather than their programmers. Experts in the fields of robotics, Law and ethics criticized the idea, claiming that modern technology isn’t advanced enough to recognize it. However, according to a Harvard law professor, AI has not only advanced but also exceeded human intelligence.
In India, the Supreme Court’s Artificial Intelligence Committee on 6th April 2021 launched its AI portal SUPACE (Supreme Courts Portal for Assistance in Court Efficiency). The then CJI SA Bobde called it “a perfect blend of human intelligence and machine learning and a hybrid system, which works together with human intelligence”. The CJI said the autonomy and discretion of Judges will remain intact as AI will only act as a catalyst for speedy disposal of cases.
CAN AI REPLACE LAWYERS?
The concluding note that whether AI technologies can replace individual judges and lawyers is too far-fetched since important cases still demand a sense of judgment, traditional wisdom, and humanity that machines are incapable of providing. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam stressed the importance of incorporating technology into the courts, saying, “Technology is an important aspect of transformation in all fields of existence with the human element also being a significant part of it”. If technology is applied correctly, it has the potential to make significant improvements in people’s lives.