Legal reasoning as we all know is the sine qua non (google it to know what it means!) of the Common Law Admission test. This section is of 50 marks and is important given the fact that in case of a tie, ranks are decided on the basis of your marks in this section.
In this section, your aptitude is judged on the basis of reasoning questions.
A logical reasoning question based on law makes a legal reasoning question. It gives you a legal principle and asks you to identify the legal consequences on the basis of a given set of facts. You need to apply the principle to the facts and identify the most appropriate option. There might be more than one correct answer and you have to identify the option which is the most correct and appropriate.
Now, one more thing that needs to be borne in mind is that you should never question the given facts. Never assume anything in law and go by the given facts only.
And then comes the Golden Rule to solve all legal reasoning questions, the cardinal rule as you may call it – the PRINCIPLE is always right.
While solving a legal reasoning question, whatever prior legal knowledge you have, all of it is to be kept aside. Go strictly by what the principle mentions, even if you feel it is the quite opposite of what the law should be. After all the principle is always right.
The principle might say that anyone who speaks inside a cinema hall and causes disturbance shall be banned from entering a cinema hall for one year. Even if you know that it is not true in a real sense, you must follow it assuming it is the truth.
However the CLAT question paper does not follow any specific pattern and is still in the process of trying to figure out its identity and what it wants an aspirant to be prepared for exactly. So you should be prepared for everything and enter the examination hall without any handicaps.
For instance, last year the CLAT committee said that all 50 questions will be of legal reasoning, but when the question paper came, it was mostly legal GK. Similarly, in 2011, all questions were of legal reasoning when the trend back then was to have questions both from Legal Reasoning and Legal GK. Sometimes legal reasoning questions may not have principles, as it happened in CLAT 2012.
Now there are certain specific types of questions that come.
The questions may be of one principle type or more than one principle type. If there is a single principle then apply it and get the answer. If there are more than one principle, read one in the light of another as you apply it to the facts.
Also, constitutional reasoning questions will be based on assertion-reason. But if you know the basics of the Part III of the constitution well, you won’t find it difficult to score very well in this section.
Get a copy of the bare act of the constitution Part III, skim through it a couple of times and understand the crux of the rights mentioned in there.
Now there are a few other important things that need to be kept in mind while solving Legal Reasoning.
Do not fall into an emotional trap, i.e do not pick an option out of emotion or just because you think it is right.
For instance, a person A goes to a shop and purchases something and the shopkeeper gives him back 100 rupee notes which are fake. When he reaches home and realises that they are counterfeit, it is too late for the day and he decides that he will inform the police the next morning. But the same night there is a raid and he is held guilty of the crime of counterfeiting.
Now you might think that he was going to inform the police the very next day so he should not be held guilty. This is exactly what the emotional trap is and how the paper-setters try to confuse and induce you into committing an error.
If the principle says that possession and knowledge of fake currency constitutes the crime of counterfeiting then the said person above is liable.
Do not pick up preachy answer choices.
This includes examples where you pick up choices which offer a moral perspective to the problem.
Say a person kills someone in self defence. This is murder but there will be no liability here because this is a defence. Here you should not pick up answer choices which say that the person is liable because murder is wrong and he should be punished because he has killed someone.
While solving reasoning questions, one simple way to help you reach to the correct option is to eliminate options.
Now, after this, if two answer choices are very close to each other and you are confused between them, then always chose the option which is closer to the principle and the question.
Also, each and every word is important and could be the deciding factor, so pay attention to the every single detail. In pursuance of that, you could look for commas, indicators such as ‘or’, ’and’, provided’, unless’ etc.
The only way to get legal reasoning questions correct is practice (we want to say that five times right here right now, but we hope you get the point). And after each set of questions that you practice, you need to figure out where you went wrong and don’t make the same mistake again.
Lastly, many students have this common query about what needs to be read first—the facts or the principle.
The ideal way is to read the principle first and then go to the facts and, later, get it cross-checked with the principle in case of any confusion.
Patience is the key while you read the principle in Legal Reasoning. At times, when you start reading a principle, you feel you have done the question before and you proceed to mark the answer without reading the rest of the question. And then it turns out to be wrong.
We are sure if you follow our words diligently, acing the Legal Reasoning section and, hopefully, the entire paper should not be very difficult.