By Diwakar Kishore
Don’t apply your own knowledge to answer a legal reasoning question!
Legal Aptitude/Legal Reasoning has always been my favorite section of the CLAT papers. I might be biased now as I have spent over 5 years of my life trying to teach, mostly a reluctant audience, how to crack legal aptitude questions.
However, even when I think of my NLS entrance test, I distinctly remember going to the last few pages of the test paper and attempting the legal aptitude section first.
For me, unlike few other sections, legal reasoning question require no prior knowledge and the questions come with a hint (wink wink). How easy can it get?
Let me try and explain it with a few examples:
Facts: Roshan, a famous gangster, moves into an apartment in Kankurgachi, Calcutta. There, he discovers that the previous owner of the apartment had left behind a pair of beautiful ivory handled combs. Mesmerized by their beauty and confused as to whom he should be returning them to, he decides to retain them and starts using them. The previous owner of the combs gets to know this and registers an FIR for theft against Roshan. Is Roshan liable ?
Principle: Whoever dishonestly takes away any property from the possession of another, with an intention of such taking away, without his permission is liable for theft.
a. Roshan is liable for theft as he failed to return the property even when he knew it was someone else’s property.
b. Roshan is not liable as he is not taken it away from anyone else’s possession and there was no dishonest intention.
c. Roshan is liable as you don’t expect anything better from a gangster.
d. Roshan is not liable as he was confused as to whom he should be returning the property to.
Explanation: Just apply the principle (the hint) to the facts and you will get the answer. In the above mentioned example, by applying the principle to the facts, I would ask myself: Did Roshan dishonestly take-away any property from the possession of another? The answer is no.
There is no need for you to wonder what Roshan should have done when he found the property, because you were not asked that question. Hence the correct answer would be option B.
Facts: The state of Hindustan Pradesh comes out with a law, which provided for reservation to Muslims in all government and government aided institutions. This law challenged in the High Court of Hindustan Pradesh, as being arbitrary and contrary to the established laws. Can the challenge be successful?
Principle: The state shall make special laws for the upliftment of citizens of the country, and these laws can be made for the benefit of any specific caste, class or sex of people living in the society.
a. Yes, since people from other religions would also start making such demands, which would jeopardize the unity and integrity of the country.
b. No, since the state has the right to make special laws for the upliftment of the citizens of the country.
c. Yes, since the state has not been mandated to make reservation, based on a person’s religion.
d. No, since the Government cannot neglect the minorities.
Explanation: If you apply the principle to the facts in this case, the main question that you will have to answer would be: Did Hindustan Pradesh by providing reservation to Muslims in all government and government aided institutions make a special law for the benefit of people belonging to any specific caste, class or sex?
Clearly not, Hindustan Pradesh made special law for the benefit of people belonging to a particular religion. Hence the correct answer to this question will be option C.
In my experience, most people make similar mistakes in the legal reasoning question. A very common mistake is applying your own knowledge to the question.
If you have read about State reservation based on religion being allowed in India and you use that knowledge to answer the above question, you will get the wrong answer.
Remember, via legal reasoning questions CLAT wants to check your aptitude and not your knowledge of the law.
All you need to do is to read the facts and the principle carefully and simply apply the principle to the facts. Like I said before, legal reasoning question require no prior knowledge and the questions come with a hint (wink wink).
Diwakar is a graduate of NLSIU, Bangalore.