How technology can be leveraged for India’s judiciary


What happens when an overburdened Indian judiciary, with approximately 20,000 judges in trial courts, are handling more than 30 million pending cases? It leads to delays in adjudication. To accelerate reforms in the Indian judicial system, academic institutions are trying to work on providing a technology stimulus to the judicial system.

At the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, for instance, the DAKSH Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Law and Technology has initiated its first three projects titled ‘Evaluation of User Interface (UI)/ User Experience (UX) for select Indian High Court websites’, ‘Case Flow Management in India via Simulation Modelling’ and ‘Cheque Bouncing Case Analysis. About 5 faculty members, and over 10 students, including PhD research scholars are engaged at its CoE set up in October 2020. Post their stints, students can take up both advanced research as well as be of use to law firms that believe in rigorous data-based methods for their work and research.

Tech edge in Law

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On why law is being integrated with technology, V Ramgopal Rao, director IIT Delhi, explains, “The Institute since its inception, has put for itself the mandate of working on problems that contribute to technology development, societal well-being and national advancement. With the Institute of Eminence (IoE) recognition, that commitment has further strengthened and forms a core pillar of its vision 2030. Students gain by participating in the associated research and experiencing the joy of contributing to meaningful change in the country, something that intensely motivates many of our faculty and students.”

Highlighting tech disruptions in the legal space, Nomesh Bolia, professor and coordinator, DAKSH CoE for Law and Technology, says that technology has been an enabler in a variety of ways. It helps analyse the reasons for delays, case flow management, intelligent scheduling and listing of cases, case outcome and duration prediction, cheque bouncing cases and more. Overall, inputs on improving the performance, system design and optimal interventions for the judicial system can be extracted using technology that goes much beyond what is referred to as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ alone but drawing from a wide community of researchers in Operations Research and Management Science.”

Harish Narasappa, lawyer and founder, DAKSH, that has collaborated with IIT Delhi to launch its CoE echoes a similar view. “Digitisation efforts are moving quite rapidly within the judiciary, and interdisciplinary research on various facets of judicial functioning will be helpful for such efforts. The digitisation efforts will also provide the base for legal technology firms to create new products,” he says of the spinoff.

Enhancing efficiency

“In the context of judicial system, technology becomes a skill in enhancing efficiency in procedures. It has the potential to create basic systems like online filing systems, e-summoning system, case-tracking system for clients, data repositories, seamless network of information flows from courts to courts and from relevant governmental bodies to courts, and advanced algorithms for retrieving relevant precedential data for both lawyers and judges, and scenario mapping for judges to assess the potential social cost of judgments,” says C Rajkumar, founding vice chancellor, OP Jindal Global University where the Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) offers courses on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ethics, property rights in AI and new technologies, privacy and new technologies, and AIs and digital ledger technologies.

For the pursuit of advanced knowledge on law and technology, the School has stablished, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Technology Law (CIPTEL) and the Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition Law (JIRICO) supported by Qualcomm Corporation for facilitating dialogues between relevant experts in law, policy, innovation, and technology. “Numerous students have been beneficiaries of these opportunities such that techno-legal startups have become one of the sought-after career options, Raj Kumar says.

He believes the swiftness of technology can help to reduce the time-lag particularly in the context of Indian judicial system where pendency of cases and the ensuing time-lag has become the biggest challenge impacting judicial efficiency than everything else. “Timely availability of a case—transcending all bureaucratic and procedural slowness—for hearing before the judges can address the pendency to a large extent. Advanced AI technologies can create a ‘push’ like red-alert when cases cross the reasonable limits set by ‘duel process’ and tend to become a ‘delay’,” he adds.

Age-old practice

Despite recent technological advancements, the concept of law and technology is not new going by Technology Law started as a course nearly 50 years ago. In fact, the two share a symbiotic relationship since a whole host of new-age courses including Cyberforensics, Patenting Law, Data Protection Law need integration of both Law and technology. Knowledge at the intersection of disciplines is the best way to understand any subject, which makes it important for legal professionals to learn from technical fields,” says Faizan Mustafa, president of Consortium of National Law Universities and vice chancellor,
NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, that has been offering Masters in Telecommunication Law, Air Transportation Management Law and Diploma in Cyber Law.

All in all, just as lawyers are developing new ways of solving legal problems with the support of technology, the interest in law among engineers too is growing and seems to be at an inflection phase due to demographic advantages.




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