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Justice delayed is justice denied. Artificial Intelligence, just as in other walks of life (luxury, health, fashion), when integrated with judicial decision-making can help increase the administrative efficiency of courts and expedite access to justice, thereby improving institutional efficiency in judicial systems across the world.

The Indian judiciary adopted AI early on via the eCourts project in which the foundation for e-courts installed with basic computing hardware was laid. While the pandemic has led to a heightened discussion around the need for virtual courts and digitization, the past two years have been particularly transformative, as the Indian judiciary maximised the use of AI tech to harness its potential. In November 2019, the launch of the beta version of SUVAAS, a neural translation, officially marked the advent of AI within Indian courts. A vast number of AI tools, algorithms, and ML has been used the world over to expedite the delivery of justice. But tools for predictive justice are some of the most advanced ones being applied in the field and are aimed at limiting the arbitrariness in human decision-making and judgement. Theoretically speaking, AI can be deployed towards improving administrative efficiency in courts, decision making etc, the paper points out that towards the integration of AI into judicial systems its legal and ethical implications need to be addressed. Moreover, there must be a phase-wise execution of this transformation to AI via an implementation roadmap.

What can AI do?

To improve administrative efficiency task-specific narrow AI tools should be the approach as these would be able to resolve registry-related hassles. Judges too, would spend less time on administrative tasks and would be able to focus more on their judicial work. As in other offices, in the judiciary too, regular administrative processes can be automated using AI.

Towards improved decision-making, AI tools can be used for research and intelligent analytics, while computational tools can help in predictive justice. AI tools are capable of providing legal briefs, condensing legal research, spotting critical pointers of law and facts, and hence enabling the expedition of justice. Legal bots can be created to help litigants make informed decisions around their rights, and facilitate access to basic legal services.

Challenges: The greatest challenge in the application of AI to Indian judicial system lies in access to datasets. Judgements, even though public resources, are not available in machine readable formats, creating hindrances in the way of tech-driven solutions and AI-based algorithms. Such roadblocks should be actively removed for the transformation of the digital transformation of the Indian judicial system.

Inputs from Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s independent research study in collaboration with TCG-Crest titled ‘Responsible Artificial Intelligence for the Indian Justice System’.

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