Chief Justice of India Advocates Responsible Integration of AI in Legal Practice

Chief Justice of India underscores the importance of responsible AI integration in legal practice, highlighting ethical considerations and international cooperation.

Chief Justice of India, Dr. DY Chandrachud, underscored the burgeoning role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the legal sphere during his welcome address at the Indo-Singapore Judicial Conference. While acknowledging the transformative potential of AI in legal practice and judicial decision-making, he also cautioned against the risks associated with the use of 'high-risk' AI tools that could introduce bias and indirect discrimination into the adjudication process.

"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," remarked the CJI.

Highlighting AI's expanded role beyond administrative efficiency, the CJI noted its increasing presence in legal research and judicial decision-making worldwide. He cited examples such as the utilization of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, by a Judge in Columbia to clarify legal questions related to insurance claims for an autistic child.

"In his groundbreaking decision, Justice Padilla incorporated a unique element into his judgment: a conversation with the ChatGPT bot. The court sought clarity on whether an autistic minor should be exempt from paying fees for their therapies by engaging in ChatGPT. Based on this exchange, he rendered a verdict affirming that, under Colombian law, an autistic child is indeed exempt from such fees," elucidated the CJI.

However, the CJI emphasized that AI should complement, not replace, the independent judgment of judges. He referenced a similar instance in Indian Courts where ChatGPT was used to gain a broader understanding of bail jurisprudence but was not considered in the case's merits assessment.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital proceedings in courts globally, leading to increased reliance on technology. The CJI highlighted India's utilization of the Case Management System and the Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software, an AI-based system facilitating live transcription in regional languages, as examples of innovative technology adoption in the judicial system.

Addressing concerns of bias and discrimination inherent in AI systems, the CJI warned against the risks of "hallucinations" and indirect discrimination. He cited instances where AI-generated false narratives misled courts and highlighted the potential for biased outcomes, especially in opaque "black-box" algorithms.

"In the realm of AI, indirect discrimination can manifest in two crucial stages. Firstly, during the training phase, where incomplete or inaccurate data may lead to biased outcomes. Secondly, discrimination may occur during data processing, often within opaque 'black-box' algorithms that obscure the decision-making process from human developers," explained the CJI.

To mitigate these risks, the CJI advocated for capacity building and training programs to equip legal professionals with the necessary skills to navigate AI complexities responsibly. He praised the efforts of organizations like the Council of Europe in developing global standards for AI governance.

Despite concerns of exacerbating social inequality, the CJI urged optimism, drawing parallels with technology's disruptive impact on other industries. He highlighted the potential for AI to democratize access to justice, exemplified by India's adoption of hybrid-mode hearings facilitating virtual participation in court proceedings.

"As we navigate the integration of AI into the legal domain, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in addressing the systemic challenges and ensuring that AI technologies serve to enhance, rather than undermine, the pursuit of justice for all," concluded the CJI.