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
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
" who has abandon the world ceases to have any proprietary
Definition of 'Person'
Basically word 'Person' is derived from the Latin term 'Persona' which means
those who are recognized by law.Savingy said person as the subject or bearer
of right and Holland said persons are not subject to right alone but also
A person can be anyone to whom the law consider of
having rights and duties. According to HOLLAND, A natural
human being as is considered by the law as capable of rights and duties5.
conditions must fulfil to become a natural person in law:
- must be a living human being and recognized by the state as person
- 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:
- The corpus. And
- The animus.
said all legal personality involves personification, the converse is not
true.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
can be divided into two categories.First is intelligence
as encompassing the level of human capabilities and intelligence and known as
�strong artificial intelligence�..
The other type of intelligence is known as weak artificial intelligence
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�. In Strategic Plan 2016-2020European
Commission proclaims that they will explore the legal frameworks for autonomous
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.
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
- Legal condition of any kind, whether personal or proprietary.
- Personal legal conditions, excluding proprietary relations.
- Personal capacities and incapacities as opposed to other elements of
- 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:
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.
- 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
- Unborn Child:
In India Under section 13 of the Transfer of Property Act,
property can be transferred for the benefit of an unborn person by way of trust.
In case of Tagore v/s Tagore, 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
- Dead Man:
Salmond said people must take care dead person's:
- estate.Sec 499
provides that any imputation against a
deceased person is punishable. Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan v Union of Indiacourt
said dead person have Right of reputation, Right of will, Right of decent
- 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
- Hindu Idols
Privy Council in Pramatha Nath Mullick v PradyumnaKumar 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. Commissionerof
income tax where in it was held that an idol is a juristic person capable of
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
The rationale for juristic personality to idol is explained by Ganpathi
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.
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.
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
Utarakhandthe 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 person34.
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.
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�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
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�. Some users of
this doll point out that an intimate relationship with her is very similar to a
real woman. 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.
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Written By: Rakesh Sharma
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25 March 2020
, Third year BBA.LLB student of UWSL