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Analysis The Notion Of Juristic Personality With Respect To Inclusion And Exclusion Of Artificial Intelligence

Historical Background of the Concept of 'Person'

The term 'person' and 'personality' means in Roman law that other institutions or group who had certain rights and duties were capable to exercise their legal rights through a representative. Under Greek and English law After 1846 animals or tree can possess rights and duties so there is no question of personality.[1]

In ancient time slaves are not considered as "person" in law because they are not able to have rights and duties. Considering Hindu law an ascetic "sanyasi " who has abandon the world ceases to have any proprietary rights.

Definition of 'Person'

Basically word 'Person' is derived from the Latin term 'Persona' which means those who are recognized by law.[2]Savingy said person as the subject or bearer of right and Holland said persons are not subject to right alone but also duties.[3]

Salmond said:
A person can be anyone to whom the law consider of having rights and duties. According to HOLLAND, A natural persons is:
such a human being as is considered by the law as capable of rights and duties5.

Two conditions must fulfil to become a natural person in law:

  1. must be a living human being and recognized by the state as person
  2. he must possess essentially human characteristics.

Meaning of Legal Person:

A body recognized by the law as being entitled to rights and duties in the same way as a natural or human person, the common example a company.6Basically legal personality is granted and recognized by law to all human beings and legal personality being an artificial creation of the law may be conferred on entities other than individual human beings. There two essentials of a legal person and these are:
  1. The corpus. And
  2. The animus.
SALMOND said all legal personality involves personification, the converse is not true.[4]Salmond said legal person is other than human beings to which the law give legal personality. A juristic person is a legal entity collection of person which is able to perform legal actions as a different identity for different purposes. Juristic person is entitled to legal protection of its rights and duties with the exception of some that may only be enjoyed or incurred by a natural person. Legal persons are called as juristic or artificial. For eg idiots, dead men, unborn persons, corporations, companies, idols, RBI, UPSC, Registered Societies, Trade Union etc

Artificial Intelligence

Term intelligence can be divided into two categories.[5]First is intelligence as encompassing the level of human capabilities and intelligence and known as �strong artificial intelligence�.[6].
The other type of intelligence is known as weak artificial intelligence.

There is difference between juristic person from AI because of its nature since juristic person is dependent on its representatives while AI has its own identity.The present day in legal system and jurisprudence doesn't clarify different question regarding the legal status to AI. Therefore there is an immediate requirement for analysis of the concept of legal personality.

AI as A Juristic Personality

In terms of issue related to legal personhood of AI has already some practical implications. Can AI get legal status, what will the implication of it, AI can have to sue or sued and rights and duties, how it correlates with moral rules, how it affects economy etc. It makes us to revise legal personhood of corporations as well as of animals.

It Implies that society, legal and moral systems will have no time to adapt. On theoretical level there are no legal barriers to grant legal personhood to autonomous machines. Actually we have experience of recognition of corporations, animals, environmental features and even idols as legal persons. Decision of introducing a AI as new legal person into the legal system will change the legal system as a whole.

European Union Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics raises the question whether they regarded as natural, legal persons or a new category and what are rights, duties, and liability of AI�[7]. In Strategic Plan 2016-2020European Commission proclaims that they will explore the legal frameworks for autonomous systems.[8]

In 2017 European parliament said artificial intelligence may become an independent subject ofcivil law and Document of EUon Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and 'Autonomous' Systems conclude world may considers the legal personality of AI only in the sphere of civil law. Recently the Citizen is given to Sophia robot of Saudi Arabia.

Rights and Duties

Rights and duties can be frame in relation to AI but there are no rules how many legal rights and duties need to have to be considered as legal person. usually it is a right to own property and the capacity to sue and be sued which is at present not given to AI. Legal personhood of a human being is usually recognized as something natural such as feelings, intentions and consciousness.

The opponents of granting AI a legal personhood said that if AI shows a behaviour that could be an evidence of mentioned qualities, it just means that autonomous machine copy human behaviour. At the same time it implies that we have to test how obligation to respect rights of AI would affect rights of other legal persons. The rights of new legal persons create the obligation to respect these rights of other legal persons recognized before. AI cannot possess the same rights or liability as a natural person or a juristic person can since each of them are unique to each other.

Now the question arises who will be held liable for the actions of AI, will its owner liable for the action of AI which they never intended such an act. if the artificial intelligence is considered a legal entity it can be held liable for its own actions. Regarding AI's legal liability, that can be criminal liability and civil liability if AI considered as juristic personality. But it would be impossible to prove the recklessness or negligence and proving actus reus and mens rea of an AI might be impractical as we cannot use the same standards or methods that we use with humans on AI. Therefore liability in criminal law on AI in relation to some situation is hard to determined.

Capacity And Status Of Juristic Personality

Capacity-Capacity means the rights and powers of a person by virtue of his being at a particular position. A person can have many capacities but his legal personality is only one. There are no rules how many legal rights and power given to AI and there is no capacity to sue and be sued. And if it is recognized as a legal entity, then we must set a limit of its capabilities.

Status-Salmond said that are four meanings of the status[9]:
  1. Legal condition of any kind, whether personal or proprietary.
  2. Personal legal conditions, excluding proprietary relations.
  3. Personal capacities and incapacities as opposed to other elements of personal status
  4. Compulsory as opposed to conventional legal position.
Status of AI as Juristic Personality-Entity-Centric Methodology is approach towards legal personality. It enables us to directly engage with the commentators and judges who engage it and this methodology fits with our understanding about human and artificial intelligence coexistence. Philosophers, scientists, theorists, etc. have made several efforts to provide a generally accepted theory for nature of philosophical personality but none of their efforts were successful.

Juristic personality incorporates inanimate objects such as corporations or considering pet animals as personified family members. Regarding juristic personality to AI there are two theory of school such as:
  1. First school said AI should be treated as a legal person and get status of juristic person with its own rights and duties with similar concept of �corporate personhood�, to a company is granted. For fault of AI it may seem unfair to create liability on the creator.
  2. Second school said AI should not be treated as a legal person such as no rights and liabilities should give to AI.
Juristic person is entitled to legal rights and duties, with exception of some that may only be enjoyed or incurred by a natural person. This concept can be the implementation of AI. All the limitations on the status, rights and capabilities of juristic person regarding legal actions that only a real person can perform also be implemented for AI.

Different Status under Jurisprudence
  1. Unborn Child:
    In India Under section 13 of the Transfer of Property Act[10], property can be transferred for the benefit of an unborn person by way of trust. In case of Tagore v/s Tagore[11], that a person to be entitled to take under a will must in fact or in contemplation of law be in existence at the time of the testator's death.
  2. Dead Man:
    Salmond said people must take care dead person's:
    1. body
    2. Reputation
    3. estate.[12]Sec 499[13]

    provides that any imputation against a deceased person is punishable. Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan v Union of India[14]court said dead person have Right of reputation, Right of will, Right of decent burial.
  3. Status to Animal:
    It was said Law does not consider lower animals as persons because they are merely things and have no natural or legal rights. In ancient Greek law, animals and trees were tried in courts for their wrongful acts. Wrongs done by animals' master will strict and not a vicarious liability.

Comparison between Legal Status of AI With Hindu Idols, Cooperation, Environment

  1. Hindu Idols
    Privy Council in Pramatha Nath Mullick v Pradyumna[15]Kumar said Hindu idols have long been judicially recognised as a legal person, founded upon religious customs. It has juristic personality and legal status with the power of suing and being sued. The Privy Council clarified that a Hindu idol is not a chattel or personal property rather than idol is a juristic person and as such it can hold property.

    In Yogendra Nath Naaskar V. Commissioner[16]of income tax where in it was held that an idol is a juristic person capable of holding property.

    If we apply the same reasoning of Supreme Court, then AI also get juristic personality and it will widen the scope of legal person. Main reason for treating idol as a juristic personality is to avoid lot of practical difficulties in the matters of taxation and allotment of land as well as on the subject to alienation of property. Granting legal personhood to artificial intelligence will not only ensure that our current legal system gets prepared for the technological change but it will also ensure that our interactions with these artificially intelligent beings are harmonious and benefits the human beings.

    The rationale for juristic personality to idol is explained by Ganpathi Iyer:
    The ascription of a legal personality to the deity supposed to be residing in the image meets with all, practical purposes.

    This proposition became the key constituent in Allahabad High Court's verdict in the Ayodhya case.[17]

    Karta- Basically Karta in a Hindu coparcenary is an example of corporate personality which have juristic personality. Karta head of the joint family who manages the entire family property. He has a right to alienate the property, sue and be sued on the behalf of the joint family. In juristic or legal terms he is a corporation sole having a double capacity.
  2. Environment:
    Maori people of New Zealand recognized national park and an important river as very significant part of their life and these environmental features were acknowledged as legal persons by the state30. Legal personhood of environment could be based on benefits of local societies, society or humanity as a whole.

    Cases mentioned above imply that a fictional legal person has to be treated at least as natural legal person and theory can be applied in term of AI when looking for their legal status. For instance, in litigation Salim vs State of Utarakhand[18]the High Court of the area proclaimed that:
    Ganga and Yamuna Rivers are juristic persons with all the corresponding rights duties and liabilities of a living person

    Applying the core reasoning of court we get to know that environment get the juristic personality because of benefits of local societies, society or humanity as a whole and same will also provide by AI such as it ensure that our current legal system gets prepared for the technological change but it will also ensure that our interactions with these artificially intelligent beings are harmonious and benefits the human beings.
  3. Incorporated Company
    Unlike a partnership firm incorporated company has a different legal or juristic existence not dependent on its members. often described as an artificial person in contrast with a human being who is a natural person. A company is capable of enjoying rights and being subjects to duties which are not the same as those enjoyed by its members. Company may sue or be sued in its own name . legal personality to corporations, which was to limit the corporate liability on an individual's shoulder which would in turn motivate people to engage in commercial activities by means of corporations.

    In the same vein, the concept of legal personhood should be extended to artificial intelligence entities as is accorded to corporate bodies. This will enable the existing legal system to have enough potential to tackle upcoming challenges by artificial intelligence. Corporation is able to have its own property, conclude transactions, hire staff etc. When scholars analyse legal personhood of corporations they usually do not discuss dignity, consciousness, and intrinsic worth.

    Usually arguments are in sphere of �efficiency, financial transparency, accountability, and the like�[19]so why no one consider dignity, consciousness etc when it comes to AI. AI also provides efficiency, financial transparency, accountability so what are reason for not giving AI personhood recognition.

    Technology already allows to developing AI robots that resemble real people. For instance sex robot harmony does not �only look like women but have a similar feel and they react like real people in conversations too�[20]. Some users of this doll point out that an intimate relationship with her is very similar to a real woman[21]. In accordance with modern law in majority of states rape of AI sex doll is not a crime and it is transparent how it would be assessed from moral point of view.

    So in order to stop these immoral acts against AI legal status of AI have to be consider if juristic personality is given to AI or Robot then they have rights to sue the people who actually infringes their rights.


The scope and concept of juristic personality is changing due to inclusion of AI. Initially companies then Idol, karta and river get legal status. Even the concept of giving legal status can be extended in future as per the society needs. It seems that there is no definite guideline to detect should or should not grant legal personhood to AI.

The possibility of recognition of killing machine with AI as a legal person is totally denied. For juristic personality to Artificial Intelligence law makers can use Entity-Centric Methodology which explains attribution of legal personhood by law to any entity. Strong AI will introduce a new dimension to our society.

Reason for favouring legal personhood to artificial intelligence is that this will prepare our legal system for this technological change without making a substantial change to it and ensure that the technological development is not divorced from our society. As strong AI would be autonomous and may tend to attract liabilities under provisions of law due to its actions. If it is not held accountable for its own actions the liability shifts to its developers or owners.

  • N.V. Paranjape, Studies In Jurisprudence And Legal Theory, 3rd Edn. 2010, Central Law Agency, Allahabad.
  • Fitzgerald P. J., Salmond On Jurisprudence, 12 Edn. 1966, Universal Law Publishing Co, New Delhi.
  • Duff P.W, 'The Personality of An Idol' [1920], Cambridge Law Journal
  • Studley, J., Bleisch, W.V 'Juristic personhood for sacred natural sites: A potential means for protecting nature' (2018), Parks
  1. Vijay Ghormade,Jurisprudence & Legal Theory(1stedn, Hindu Law House 2008) 389-390
  2. S.N.Dhyani,Jurisprudence &Indian Legal Theory(4thedn, Central Law Agency 2015) 246
  3. N.V. Paranjape,Studies In Jurisprudence And Legal Theory(3rdedn, Central Law Agency 2010) 341
  4. Fitzgerald P. J.,Salmond On Jurisprudence(12th edn, Universal Law Publishing Co 1966) 299
  5. S.J. Russell & P.Norvig,Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach(3rdedn, Pearson 2003)
  6. HL Dreyfus,What Computers Still Can't Do: A Critique Of Artificial Intelligence(3rdedn, MIT Press 1992) JH Sommer, Against Cyber Law(2000)
  7. Draft Report Civil Law Rules On Robotics 2015/2103(INL)
  8. Roman Dremliuga, 'Criteria for Recognition of AI as a Legal Personl' [2019] 12 Journal of Politics and Law
  9. Fitzgerald P. J.,Salmond On Jurisprudence(12th edn, Universal Law Publishing Co 1966) 299
  10. Transfer of Property Act 1882, s 13
  11. Tagore v. Tagore, [1872] 9 Beng. L.R. 337 I.A. Sup. Vol. 47: 13 WR 45.
  12. Shubham Singh,'Attribution Of Legal Personhood To Artificially Intelligent Beings' [2017]Bharati Law Review
  13. Indian Penal Code 1860, s 499.
  14. Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan v Union Of India, [2002] 2 SCC 27.
  15. Sutherland Edwin H,Principles of Criminology(11thedn, General Hall Inc)
  16. Pramatha Nath Mullick v. Pradyumna, [1925] 27 BOMLR 1064.
  17. Yogendra Nath Naaskar v. Commissioner,[1969] AIR 1089; 1969 SCR (3) 742.
  18. M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs v. Mahant Suresh Das & Ors, [2019] SCC 1482.
  19. Salim v. State Of Uttarakhand, [2017] SCC Online Utt 367.
  20. Pagallo, Vital, Sophia,The Quest For The Legal Personhood Of Robots( 8thedn, MIT Press Ltd 2018) 36Abhivardhan,Artificial Intelligence Ethics & International Law An Introduction(1stedn, BPB Publications, 2019)
  21. Abhivardhan,Artificial Intelligence Ethics & International Law An Introduction(1stedn, BPB Publications, 2019)
  22. https://Www.Theguardian.Com/Technology/2017/Apr/27/Race-To-Build-World-First-Sex-Robot;accessed 25 March 2020
Written By: Rakesh Sharma, Third year BBA.LLB student of UWSL

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