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February 7 to 9, 2020

Venue: School of Law, Bennett University, Greater Noida


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Ainetic Corporation & Another v. Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal & Others With State of Uttar Pradesh v. Union of India And Raymond Sketcher & Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh


1. Safecargo trucks, true to their name, pride themselves on being zero-risk carriers and there has never been a case of missing or damaged cargo in its entire history. A state-of-the-art autonomous Safecargo articulated intermodal Truck manufactured by Ainetic Corporation, Noida and operated by Smalogis Corporation, Mumbai, entered Greater Noida on 2 nd July 2035 where the speed limit in the Smart City is 100 km per hour.

2. The truck commenced journey from Saharanpur on the Amritsar - Kolkata Industrial Corridor to Greater Noida to reach Kanpur. Once the Safecargo truck entered the Smart City, Mr. Gulshan Singh, the driver, put the truck on autonomous mode as per protocol. As it cruised at 85 km per hour through a neatly paved road in an elevated section of the Smart City, the truck began to skid on a large pool of sludge which had spilled on to the road at a point where the road curved in a rightward direction. On the left edge of the road was a 25-foot drop. The sludge was from a malfunctioning sewage system of a smart building whose sensors had broken down. At the same time Mr. Gulshan Singh noticed a school bus approaching on the other side of the road.

3. The truck had been programmed to privilege the safety of the freight in the truck in crisis situations. The trailer at the rear fishtailed dangerously close to the right edge of the road. The onboard artificial intelligence system acted fast to avert danger and instantly steered the truck to the right to prevent the trailer from falling off the ledge. However, the nose of the truck smashed into the school bus toppling it and a fraction of a second later the fishtailing trailer slammed into the bus. Unfortunately, a cow, attached to a local smart temple, which was on a morning stroll blissfully unaware of the smart environment was also fatally hit. The truck came to standstill in a classic jack-knife wreck, but the trailer and cargo were intact.

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4. Robotic cops arrived at the scene within minutes, gathered evidence of the accident, and cleared the accident scene to enable free flow of traffic while ambulances rushed to the scene and carried the injured to the nearest hospital with trauma-care facilities. The Robotic cops was designed and developed by ArtIntel Corporation, which held several patents covering robotic technology. A municipal van removed the carcass of the cow and smart traffic was restored within half an hour of the incident. Out of 45 school students, 25 died and 20 suffered from grievous injuries of whom 16 suffered total permanent disability. The bus driver escaped with multiple fractures as he leaped away from his seat sensing the danger and was lucky to suffer only loss of a lower limb assessed as partial permanent disability.

5. Upon media coverage of the accident, there was a huge public outcry throughout the state of Uttar Pradesh. One journalist who specialises in reporting matters of technology, citing an anonymous whistle-blower in the truck manufacturing company reported in some detail that the algorithm, on which the software of the autonomous truck was based, privileged the security of the freight in the truck over lives of people. Another journalist reported that the sensors in the sewage system broke down frequently, and the engineer, Ms. Talveen Meena had negligently failed to replace them although the sensors had been malfunctioning for a week now.

6. Upon being interviewed, Ms. Talveen Meena stated that the maintenance of the building was outsourced to Sensorship Corporation, Pune under a contract and the sensors supplied by them were all of such low quality that replacement did not improve their functioning. She also cited mails that she had sent to her CEO and also to the contractor about the quality of the sensors but stated that no action was taken. Ramesh Thakur, the driver of the school bus admitted that he had come on to the freight road to avoid congestion on the regular road to the school and he had been alerted to the congestion in advance by the City’s intelligent traffic and signalling system. But newspaper editorials wondered why the Control & Command Centre of the Smart City had not alerted the driver of the truck about the overflowing sludge and the oncoming school bus or even of the cow, when they constantly boasted of intelligent traffic and signalling systems that supplied real time information to drivers in smart vehicles.

7. A FIR was registered at the Greater Noida Smart City Police Station in Crime No. 1212 of 2035 by Paresh Rawat, a local plumber, who was an eye-witness to the accident. He described how the driver had rashly and foolishly steered the truck to the right thereby hitting the school bus. Investigation commenced and in due course, the Inspector of Police of the Greater Noida Smart

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City Police Station lodged a final report before the competent court citing (i) the CEO of Ainetic Corporation, Mr. Raymond Sketcher as A1 and the CEO of Smalogis Corporation, Ms. Nafisa Fareed as A2 under section 302 IPC; (ii) the CEO of ArtIntel Corporation, Mr. Lawrence Bosh, which designed and developed the software for Safecargo Trucks as A3 and the Project Head of the team, Mr. Avinash Iyer in ArtIntel Corporation which worked on the Safecargo Trucks project as A4, and the CEO of the Greater Noida Smart City, Mr. Sumeet Gupta as A5 under section 304 IPC; and (iii) the driver of the truck, Mr. Gulshan Singh as A6 and the Engineer, Ms. Talveen Meena as A7 under section 304A IPC.

8. Rashtriya Gaumata Paripalana Samiti (RSPS), a charitable society registered in Uttar Pradesh working for declaring the cow as the national animal of India filed an intervention application complaining that the state had many atheists who show no respect to cows and seeking to amend the chargesheet to add the offence of cow slaughter and also the offence of outraging religious feelings of Hindus under section 295 IPC. In particular, they objected to the design of the truck and its software which neither comprehended nor provided for special protection for cows.

9. The chargesheet highlighted the following facts and materials: -

a. An expert’s technical report commissioned by the Uttar Pradesh Police Department showed that Safecargo was deliberately programmed to choose the preservation of cargo over prevention of loss of life in the event of an accident.

b. The expert report also had annexures showing the methods and results of virtual simulation product testing before the vehicle was made commercially available, and there were a few scenarios involving accidents similar, though not identical to the one that occurred in Greater Noida;

c. The expert report also emphasized the fact that the Control & Command Centre had failed

to detect and alert the driver of the truck of the overflowing sludge on the road and the plying of normal traffic, including the oncoming school bus and the presence of the cow on the road.

d. The advertisement for the sale of trucks highlighted the following features:

i. the preservation and safety of cargo was the central and cardinal principle of its design;

ii. huge saving by its significant fuel economy and other features, thanks to its intelligent and autonomous technology notwithstanding the relatively higher price of its trucks; and

iii. significantly lower insurance costs, with its zero-risk character.

e. Smalogis’ fleet almost entirely comprised of Safecargo Trucks and their advertisement of zero-

risk to cargo boosted their business exponentially.

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f. The chargesheet recorded the fact that some of the material gathered during investigation was supplied by robotic cops, who had artificial intelligence capabilities to not only gather relevant material for evidence, but also to identify the specific persons who are culpable on the basis of their actions and role played by them and also identify the offences committed by each of them with high level of accuracy surpassing ordinary human capability.

g. As such, it could be inferred that the death of the school children was a programmed event. It was not merely the result of a rash and negligent act, but a coldly deliberated decision.

10. National Smart City Technology Confederation (NSTC), the trade association of software and hardware companies which specializes in providing technological services in smart cities in India produced a well-researched report in May 2030 showing that if product liability is not curtailed in respect of artificial intelligence and robotics, the flow of foreign direct investment and entry of state-of-the-art technologies into India would be impeded. The research was funded by a leading multinational insurance company. Under pressure from NSTC and some international funding agencies which had funded various smart cities in India, the Central Government introduced a Bill in the Parliament to restrict product liability in respect of any adverse event in a smart city involving artificial intelligence and robotics and such other technologies as may be notified by the Central Government.

11. The Smart Cities (Regulation of Product Liability) Act came into force on 21st December 2034. The total liability for any adverse event was limited to Rupees 1 Crore irrespective of the number of people who died or were injured or the value of the loss of or damage to property by the same (Section 17). The Act provided for a Central Commissioner, with powers of a civil court who would assess the compensation payable after hearing the affected parties and apportion the same between various claimants, where there are more than one (Sections 8 & 9). The Commissioner was also vested with the power, notwithstanding the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, to declare by notification that any information or document or material relating to the technology, equipment or software involving any adverse event in the Smart City was confidential and thereupon any breach of such a declaration would be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of upto three years and with fine of upto Rs.10 lakhs (sections 11 & 12). The jurisdiction of all courts and Tribunals were excluded in matters over which the Commissioner had jurisdiction (Section 23). The Central Government was empowered to issue directions to the Commissioner, subject to the provisions of the Act, which the Commissioner was bound to implement (Section 24). The State Government and its officers were bound to comply with directions of the

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Commissioner and render all assistance to enable him to fulfil his duties under the Act (Section


12. On 10 th November 2035 a joint petition was filed by parents and guardians of the dead and injured children for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 against Ainetic Corporation, Smalogis Corporation and ArtIntel Corporation for compensation. On receiving notice of the above petition, Ainetic and ArtIntel filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court arguing that they do not operate motor vehicles and as such, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the claim against them and that no cause of action has been made out in law against them for such a claim; and that claims, if any could only be filed before the Commissioner under the Smart City (Regulation of Product Liability) Act.

13. On 2 nd February 2036 the Government of Uttar Pradesh filed a Writ Petition before the Allahabad High Court challenging the validity of the provisions of the Smart City (Regulation of Product Liability) Act contending inter alia that the same were discriminatory and expropriatory; that there was a violation of Article 50 of the Constitution in as much as judicial functions were vested in an executive official; that the Smart City was within the State of Uttar Pradesh and it could not be turned into an enclave of the Central Government; that the power to treat information, materials and documents as confidential overriding the Right to Information Act which was a constitutional mandate and equally the vesting of such an extraordinary power to decide upon such confidentiality in an executive official was arbitrary and ultra vires the Constitution. Some of the parents of the dead children file an application to be impleaded in support of the State Government’s submissions. They also inter alia asserted that the Smart City (Regulation of Product Liability) Act was inapplicable to their claims as the adverse event, comprehended the programming of the technology which admittedly occurred outside the Smart City and the principle of strict liability applied to such hazardous technologies.

14. On 3 rd March 2036, A1 to A5 in the criminal proceedings filed petitions before the Allahabad High Court under its inherent power under section 482 CrPC to prevent abuse of process of court and secure the ends of justice praying for quashing of the criminal proceedings filed against them inter alia on the ground that admittedly they were not directly involved in the accident; that there could be no vicarious liability in criminal law; that the disclaimers in the relevant contracts had not been taken note of; that the investigation officer has not comprehended the nature and limitations of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics; that the evidence gathered by robotic

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cops is unreliable and not admissible in evidence; that the Smart City (Regulation of Product Liability) Act excluded the jurisdiction of criminal courts as well; and lastly, even if the facts narrated in the chargesheet and the material cited are assumed to be true, no criminal offences have been made out against them, as alleged, and at best it makes out a case for tortious liability.

15. Both the Writ Petitions filed by and the Petition to quash criminal proceedings are posted before the Allahabad High Court which have framed the following issues for adjudication:

a) Whether the writ petition challenging the jurisdiction of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is maintainable in law?

b) Whether the writ petition filed by a state government challenging the vires of a central legislation is maintainable in law?

c) Whether the provisions of the Smart City (Regulation of Product Liability) Act are ultra vires the Constitution?

d) Whether the petition filed under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is maintainable in law?

NOTE - Teams are expected to confine their arguments to these issues but can create sub-issues thereon. The moot proposition has been drafted by Adv. Swapna Sundar, CEO, IP Dome Strategic Advisors and Adv. P.V.S. Giridhar, Advocate, Madras High Court. Any attempt to contact the said person for the purposes of the moot proposition on or before the competition dates shall result in immediate disqualification from the competition.


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