Can judges be replaced by cyber judges? How AI can transform Judiciary

By: |
January 23, 2019 12:18 AM

This unbiased judiciary will instill confidence in investors and citizens that they will get fair and prompt relief where deserving.

Using AI to transform judiciary

India as a true democracy takes immense pride in the separation of its executive and judiciary. However, it is a general perception that the judicial system today suffers from various flaws—nepotism, favouritism, political pressures, media verdicts, public opinions, ego issues, besides alleged instances of corruption at various levels.

A major problem in our judicial system today to my mind is the fact that the influence of media reports and perceived public opinion weighs heavily on judges. As a result, the doctrines of ‘law is blind’ and that ‘an accused is deemed innocent till proven guilty’ seem to have been replaced by the principle that relief to an accused (say by way of bail) in a media reported case can only be considered when the particular news is no longer a major news.

This situation prevails particularly with respect to high profile personalities accused for crimes ranging from criminal offences to economic offences to sexual misconduct and harassment, where the accused are pronounced guilty by media. It is generally perceived that the chances in cases involving such known personalities of getting a fair and unbiased hearing (at least at lower levels of judiciary) are low.

Another serious problem that is well known is the exorbitantly expensive legal system where the legal fees of certain prominent lawyers have gone through the roof, mainly because it is believed that an ‘appearance’ by them can get the desired judgment or relief. For many individuals, and even corporates, legal remedies are getting beyond their means because of such high costs.

Makes me wonder as to what is then the purpose of asserting that ‘law is blind’ when the judges have to see cases through the lens of media or based on faces of some senior lawyers, and not based on law and facts supported by proof. Add to these the huge pendencies of legal cases before the judiciary at all levels and across the country and it becomes fairly apparent that our judicial system, if not broken, is certainly crumbling.

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If one is to carefully analyse the root cause for the issues pointed out above, there would only be one conclusion. And that is that all these problems and imperfections are caused due to the ‘human angle’ in the judiciary. Lack of human resources/capabilities and mixing human feelings and emotions with law and proofs cause the problems that we see in our judicial system today.

The solution I propose is to replace ‘judges’ by ‘cyber judges’, i.e. computers using AI. It might take some time, but it would be relatively simple in this age of AI, where reported cases have already been brought online, as reported by a New York-based law firm that has started using AI to draft petitions and arguments. The proposal I have is that, for all cases, both sides must file all written arguments and pleadings with citation of law as well as case laws online before the “cyber judge” for its consideration, along with relevant proofs. The two sides should be given an opportunity to file their rebuttals of the assertions made by the other side.

Based on arguments and counter arguments, the ‘cyber judge’ would pronounce the decision with complete reasoning, after appreciating all evidence, arguments, counter arguments, laws and legal cases cited. It is my belief that such a decision would qualitatively be as good as what one would expect from a totally impartial judge.

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The advantages will be several:

In one stroke, the legal professionals will get judged and recognised on their abilities and intelligence as a lawyer and the hard work put in preparing a case and not on ‘reputation’, seniority or the ability to mould arguments, presentations and pitches according to the personal preference or learnings of a judge. This would mean the end of the exorbitant legal fees charged today by seniors who quote millions of rupees for a mere ‘appearance’ in a matter of ‘admission of a petition’ or ‘stay of proceedings’—even if the case is adjourned or does not come up for hearing.

No influence of media reports and trials or propaganda carried out by interested parties—whether they be religious groups, political parties, powerful lobbies or corporate rivals.

No scope for nepotism, favouritism or corruption.

No more pendencies as the ‘cyber judges’ would be able to work 24×7 without any fatigue.

A radical reduction in the cost of maintaining judiciary, including freeing of very expensive and prime properties occupied by thousands of courts and lordships.

Total elimination of government influence over judges.

In cases of differing judgments of various regional courts (which could be there because of different precedents in specific states on the same matter), the issue and all cases involved shall be automatically collated and transferred to the Supreme Court for a final judgment. Over a period of time, the time taken for a final pronouncement on any issue would be shrunk beyond what can be currently imagined.

The tendency in recent times of courts assuming authority which, as per the Constitution, lies with Parliament, would be eliminated. The separation of judiciary and executive would be truly restored with each acting within the boundaries prescribed by our Constitution.

The distinction between cases involving issues of ‘facts’ vs ‘law’ would be clearly made, thereby ensuring that issues involving facts would be finalised at ‘lower’ level only.

The prevalent practice of ‘remanding’ the case to lower authorities or courts to reconsider (which basically amounts to kicking the ball in someone else’s court) would be totally eliminated. The pendencies of cases, accordingly, will seriously reduce.

The man hours, petrol and diesel and paper saved will have a very positive impact on our economy and

Most importantly, the unbiased judiciary will instill tremendous confidence in investors and citizens (particularly in litigation against the government) that they will get fair and prompt relief where deserving without the fear that the judge would feel uncomfortable giving a large relief which might impact government revenue. This would be a major step towards ‘ease of doing business’.

In summary, I believe, based on a factual assessment as above, that lack of human intervention in judicial process will eradicate existing follies in our judicial system.

Radical as it may sound, I believe there can be no better application of AI than application in the judicial system, especially for large democracies like ours where large-scale litigation and pendencies of cases are a norm, which are thus resulting in gross injustices to citizens.

The author is Vice chairman, Bharti Enterprises
Views are personal

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