While Artificial intelligence (“AI”) has the potential to dramatically transform numerous aspects of Indian society, ranging from healthcare, education, and law enforcement to transportation and agriculture, there are numerous ethical challenges and implications that its use throws up, which need to be carefully considered and addressed. AI uses algorithms to execute jobs that would normally necessitate human decision-making, learning skills, expertise, and other forms of intelligence and mimic human intelligence and behavior. Here we try to analyze the usage of AI in the Indian legal system and its implications.

Accountability concerns

As AI systems become more autonomous and start making decisions without human intervention, it may become more difficult to assign responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of those decisions. This could be particularly challenging in contexts such as healthcare, where AI may make life-or-death decisions, or law enforcement agencies’ use of facial recognition technology, which has been criticized for its propensity to perpetuate biases and abuses of privacy rights.[1] Fact remains that AI algorithms are only as unbiased as the data used to train them. If the data sets used to train AI systems are biased, then the AI systems may make biased decisions and may perpetuate discrimination against certain groups. As AI becomes more incorporated into the legal system, it will become critical to address the concerns regarding transparency and accountability and guarantee the ethical and accountable use of AI.[2]

Transparency concerns

As AI becomes more integrated into society, the decision-making processes of these systems must be transparent and open to the public at large. AI has been employed in the Indian legal system without adequate transparency in some cases. For example, in 2020, an AI-powered facial recognition system was employed in the investigation of the Delhi riots, prompting worries about its lack of transparency.[3] As a repercussion, it could erode public trust in the judicial system, and judgment calls made by AI systems could be challenged owing to a lack of transparency. It is critical to guarantee that the use of AI systems in the legal system is transparent and that their decision-making process is explainable.[4]

The Regulatory Void

While there are currently no regulations in India governing the use of AI in the legal system, we have the (i) Information Technology Act, 2000 dealing with data protection, cybersecurity, and electronic transactions, and (ii) the much-expected Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 dealing with data privacy, consent, and the processing of personal data, both of which would be relevant to AI systems. To address this, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry established an Artificial Intelligence Task Force in 2017 intending to integrate AI into India’s economic, political, and legal thought processes.[5] Furthermore, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology introduced four committees to develop an AI policy framework.[6] In addition, the Indian government has established the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Field (“CEAILF”) to address some of these concerns.[7] Recently, NITI Aayog also released the “National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence” (“NSAI”) in the form of a discussion paper, which might potentially serve as a beginning point for regulating AI in India.[8]

To Infinity…and Beyond?

There is no doubt that AI integration in the Indian legal system has the potential to improve efficiency and accuracy. However, questions about accountability and transparency must be addressed to ensure that the employment of AI is ethical and fair. The lack of a defined legislative framework for the use of AI raises questions about accountability and transparency. The formation of committees and institutes such as CEAILF, as well as the publication of the NSAI discussion paper by NITI Aayog, are positive milestones. Additionally, India is planning to launch its own AI program stacked with large datasets by April 2023.[9] However, it is critical to prioritize the construction of a regulatory framework that addresses accountability and transparency concerns around AI’s usage. This would ensure that artificial intelligence is employed in legal decision-making in a fair, just, and trustworthy manner, preserving the integrity of the Indian legal system.

Authored by Prashant Kataria

[1] https://indiaai.gov.in/article/ai-in-judicial-systems.

[2] https://indiaai.gov.in/research-reports/towards-an-accountability-framework-for-ai-ethical-and-legal-considerations.

[3] https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/explained-delhi-polices-use-of-facial-recognition-technology/article65793897.ece.

[4] https://indiaai.gov.in/ai-standards/transparency.

[5] https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=170231.

[6] https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/constitution_of_four_committees_on_artificial_intelligence.pdf.

[7] https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1559451.

[8] https://niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2019-01/NationalStrategy-for-AI-Discussion-Paper.pdf.

[9] https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/india-will-soon-have-its-own-ai-program-mos-it-rajeev-chandrasekhar-123030700944_1.html?.

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