Manipur HC
Manipur High CourtSCC Online Official Website

The Manipur HC today became the second High Court in India to use ChatGPT for the purpose of passing a judgement. The High Court's use of the AI assistant to conduct legal research comes after the Punjab & Haryana High Court made this historic move last year.

The Manipur HC in the matter of Md. Zakir Hussain vs. The State of Manipur & Others relied on the chatbot for research assistance due to failure of the government counsel in providing information relating to the service conditions of the Village Defence Force in the state. The Punjab & Haryana High Court (Jaswinder Singh v. State of Punjab) used ChatGPT to research and get inputs on jurisprudence matters of cruelty and bail applications across the world.

AI and its use are becoming increasingly common. With this, comes a complex set of issues having major implications for the judiciary, jurisprudence and legal professionals in the coming years.

CJI at J20
Hon'ble Chief Justice of India, Dr. D.Y.Chandrachud at the J20 Summit in Brazil addressing the subject 'Digital transformation and the use of technology to enhance judicial efficiency'PTI

AI's Potential and Scope for Adoption within the Judicial System:

As a research tool: When used as a complimentary tool for legal professionals and researchers, AI virtual assistants can be useful in research, especially in cases where there is a need to process large volumes of information such as case law in a short period of time.

For Systemic Augmentation: With steps towards tech upgradation already underway within the Indian courts, AI could prove useful in improving case management, organisation and administration, as exemplified in the UK.

Translation: The recent release of advanced translation related AI by ChatGPT 4.0 and others indicates how AI has the potential to break language barriers. SUVAS (Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software) which translates legal content is already in use by the Supreme Court. Such instruments could be developed further by the court system, thereby expanding access, equity and transparency.

AI Prediction: Countries like the US and China have been using predictive AI for various purposes such as analysing past case trends or tracking sentencing, while also attempting to predict ongoing case outcomes. The latter could be controversial, however, there is scope for using AI in a responsible manner to analyse trends and track performance.

Challenges and Debates: The jury is still out

Human vs AI: In this regard, there are a host of unresolved legal challenges. Two of which are extremely important for India. First, to what extent can human discretion, intellect and interpretation be pitted against computational analysis within the field of law?

Second, there are numerous socio-economic and cultural factors along with normative aspects, particularly while using generative AI which may go unaddressed through machine learning. This is a significant concern while constructing legal arguments, reasoning and delivering judgements in India.

Accuracy: AI tech companies themselves acknowledge that levels of AI accuracy are not always 100%. For instance, OpenAI's terms of use state that "Output may not always be accurate. You should not rely on Output from our Services as a sole source of truth or factual information, or as a substitute for professional advice."

 AI System Bias and Risk: AI systems may contain inherent biases, which could prove counterproductive and risky. For example, in crime mapping and prediction, studies have shown that systems in the US displayed forms of racial profiling and a disproportionate targeting of minorities in their analysis. Reliance on AI (as it stands today) for more intricate legal tasks could therefore pose a challenge to upholding the 'rule of law' as well as principles of equity, justice and fairness.

Protection of rights: The issues of safety, privacy, ethics and even the protection of 'right to life' while applying AI within legal systems are still filled with ambiguity and difficulties.

Future outcomes are hard to predict

While the judiciary in India has successfully embraced digital transformation in its daily functioning, the future role of AI here is likely to be a 'double-edged' sword. On one hand, AI can improve efficiency, decision-making and transparency within the system. On the other, it raises privacy concerns, issues of job displacement and increased dependency.

The CJI at the recently concluded J20 Summit in Brazil has duly embraced the potential of AI and its future use-including for decision-making, albeit with caution. To quote, "We are now having conversations about the explainability of the artificial intelligence decision-making mechanism, which means that AI cannot decide in a black box and there must be an explanation of why it decided the way it did."