Chief Justice of India SA Bobde
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde
Litigation News

Artificial Intelligence can supplement but not supplant a judge; cannot be allowed to determine outcome of case: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde

ByNeha Joshi

Machines cannot replace human decision making in a judicial system, Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde opined on Thursday stating that while Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist humans in coming to a decision, it cannot replace the human decision making capacity in a justice delivery system.

The role of AI, therefore, would be to extract information and at speed but AI should not be allowed to determine the outcome of the case.

"How to extract information, is where AI in judiciary must end according to me. Finding out the latest position in law according to me is an important tool. We must not allow AI to determine the outcome of a case," he said.

Judging, he said, is more than just processing incidents that have come up for judging. It involves emotions which are responses to the incident followed by arguments and reasoning all of which eventually lead to the ultimate decision making.

AI functions by following basic responses of the human mind to instances, and this in itself is a natural limitation to AI, he said. Thus, AI could do a wonderful job if it had all the information, but the final goal was not AI but justice.

For this reason, CJI Bobde clarified, he is opposed to automated decision making.

"I have persistently opposed automated decision making. It is not possible for a system of justice to accept a machine however intelligent to replace a human decision," the CJI emphasised.

"There is a lot of emotional basis to a (judicial) decision, which AI cannot reach. Hence I have opposed algorithmic reasons for decisions in court," he added.

CJI Bobde was speaking at the launch of the report on "Responsible AI for the Indian Justice System" compiled by the Vidhi Centre of Law and Policy along with TCG Crest.

He began his address by pointing out that for the Indian judiciary this decade will mark a move towards more technological integration and actively pursue AI for the justice system.

He said that the "assistive tools" could give all the necessary information to arrive at a correct decision as per the existing laws, but not decide when and what to give a verdict on.

"We will also not allow it to tell us what to decide, when to decide. We will only use it to provide all the information at a high speed," CJI Bobde underscored.

CJI Bobde also emphasised the importance of ensuring that AI system aligns with the ethical principles, constitutional morals and rights of the citizen.

"Where we rely upon judicial technology to aid a judicial decision, it must be subject to the final consideration of a human (mind)," he said.

He expressed his delight at the launch of the Artificial Intelligence portal SUPACE (Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Courts Efficiency) which he claimed was an important milestone in the ongoing experiment with AI.

Along with SUVAS (for legal translation), he said that the tools and the increasing reliance on AI by the judiciary accentuated during the global pandemic, compelled the judiciary to modernise themselves and ensure that access of justice is unhindered.

He stated that the "idea of a futuristic judiciary is no longer imaginary".

He, however, warned that the use of AI like any other technological innovation has its advantages and risks.

In this regard, he opined there is a trend of "approach-avoidance conflict" in connection with the AI.

"You see a particular feature and you want to go ahead, then you see some other feature which retards it and you want to avoid it."

He submitted that a governance and ethics framework was essential to ensure that risks are minimised as far as possible. Additionally, it is important to push for stakeholder engagement to ensure that technologies that are being integrated further the ends of justice for every citizen of India as mandated by the Constitution.

The other speakers at the event included sitting Supreme Court Judge, Justice L Nageswara Rao and former Supreme Court Judge Justice (retd) BN Srikrishna along with Christoph Winter, Harvard University, part of the Legal Priorities Project and Professor Partha P Chakrabarti, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

The event was moderated by Ameen Jauhar from Vidhi Centre.

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