Comprehension Based Practice Questions on Legal Reasoning for CLAT 2020
Legal Reasoning for CLAT 2020
Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow-
The past month has witnessed several protests across the nation against the central government’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. While the protests are a positive sign — indicative of the nation’s united resistance against any attempt which threatens to destroy our secular fabric — the response of the government to quell the protests in any manner whatsoever is deeply worrisome. We have witnessed police brutality against students, labelling of protesters/dissenters as ‘anti-nationals’ and excessive surveillance over areas of protest.
In what appears to be another attempt towards creating an ‘Orwellian State’, the police forces have started using drones to monitor the areas of protest, with the Uttar Pradesh Police going a step further by conducting an aerial survey of houses in several areas of protest in the state. The UP Police’s justification for the survey is that drones help them ‘track and record’ movements of alleged ‘anti-social’ elements, and capture images of houses where bricks and stones are kept on the terraces.
The government can only monitor individuals against whom reasonable grounds of suspicion exist, that is, people with criminal antecedents. Therefore, the State’s monitoring of individuals whom they suspect to be an anti-social elements sans evidence of their past criminal records is a blatant disregard of the law. Sadly, the government is monitoring the movements of protesters who have committed no crime but have only exercised their fundamental right to free speech.
If the last month is any indication, there are chances that footage from the drones may be misused to harass and deter protesters from expressing their dissent.
As per law, the liberty of an individual can never be taken away; it can only be reasonably restricted. However, it seems of late that there has been no restrictions but rather the snatching away of fundamental rights.
1. The phrase "quell the protests in any manner whatsoever" used in the above passage indicates that the government is-
(a) using legal measures to quell protests
(b) using illegal measures to quell protests
(c) using legal but morally wrong measures to quell protests
(d) None of the above
2. Assuming that surveillance of public places is legal, the above passage suggests that-
(a) terrace of a house is a public place
(b) terrace of a house is not a public place
(c) terrace of a house is a public place as it is freely visible from above
(d) None of the above
3. The above passage relates to-
(a) right to privacy
(b) right to free speech
(c) Both (a) and (b)
(d) None of the above
Khunti’s sedition cases go back to 2017, and the start of the “Pathalgadi movement”. Adivasis who were faced with corporate takeover of their land resorted to an innovative form of protest: they began to carve provisions of the Indian Constitution’s Fifth Schedule — that guarantees tribal autonomy — upon stone slabs placed upon the boundaries of the village. The first information reports (FIRs) that follow allege that the police were attacked with “sticks and traditional weapons” (an allegation that the Adivasis dispute); but additionally, the FIRs also state that the leaders of the movement have been “misleading the innocent people in the name of scheduled areas”, and “erecting stone slabs presenting wrong interpretation of the Constitution”. As a result of these FIRs, individuals spent many months in jail.
The ongoing events in Khunti reveal multiple faultlines in the legal system, and multiple faults in those who implement it. A century-and-a-half after it was first enacted into the Indian Penal Code by the colonial government, the vague, ambiguous, and unclear wording of the sedition provision continues to make it ripe for abuse. Sedition is defined as “disaffection” against the government, or bringing it into “hatred or contempt”.
It should be immediately obvious that the scope of these words is boundless, and boundlessly manipulable. However, when the sedition law was challenged in 1962, the Supreme Court of India chose to uphold it, while claiming to “narrow it down”. The court noted that only acts that had a “tendency” to cause public disorder would fall within the scope of the section.
As the years since that judgment have shown, however, this dictum had no impact whatsoever on the abuse of the sedition law. To start with “tendency to cause public disorder” was almost as vague as the text or the original section. Second, as long as the section continued to exist in the form that it did, the police could, and did continue to invoke it to stifle protest and dissent; and trial courts could and did continue to refuse bail to jailed people. The failure, thus, extended to every wing of the state: to Parliament, for allowing the provision to remain on the statute books, to the Supreme Court for not striking it down when it had the chance, to State governments and State police, that have found in it a ready tool of oppression, and to lower courts, that enable prolonged incarceration of people under the section.
It hardly needs to be said that “encounters” — and “fake encounters” — take place because there do not exist adequate structures of accountability. Without those structures, the police effectively operate in a zone of impunity. In 2009, the then High Court of Andhra Pradesh passed a landmark judgment, in which it attempted to create a regime of accountability. Central to this regime was the requirement that encounter deaths would be investigated as if they were murder cases. An FIR would have to be registered against the police officers responsible for the encounter, and to the extent that they invoked self-defence they would have to prove it.
The High Court’s judgment, however, was stayed by the Supreme Court, which then passed a series of vague and unclear guidelines a few years later, on the same subject. Even this regime, however, was given a go-by in the recent Telangana encounter case, where, acting on a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court stayed all pending proceedings (including before the Telangana High Court, which was following the guidelines), and handed over the investigation to a “committee”, with a six-month reporting period, to boot.
The Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh incidents show that the rule of law and the Constitution continue to fail those who need it the most, and in the places where it is needed the most. And the root cause of this failure is the active complicity of the very actors who we most expect to maintain the rule of law: clearly, abusive laws are enacted by Parliament, upheld by courts, misused by the police, and sanctioned (again) by courts.
1. In the above passage, the author has discussed issue of-
(b) fake encounter
(c) both (a) and (b)
2. According to the author, the fact that FIRs lodged by police against tribal people recorded "attacking with sticks and traditional weapons" indicates-
(a) misreporting of incidents by police
(b) underreporting of incidents by police
(c) truthful reporting of incidents by police
(d) None of the above
3. The author holds the following responsible for misuse of Indian laws-
(d) All of the above
Answer key with explanations
Question 1 - Option (b) is the correct answer.
Explanation - The subsequent line which mentions "police brutality against students" indicates that the government used illegal measures to quell protests.
Question 2 - Option (b) is the correct answer.
Explanation - The author talks against use of drones for monitoring terraces of house hence he is treating terrace to not be a public place.
Question 3 - Option (c) is the correct answer.
Explanation - The author has talked about illegal monitoring by drones as well as peaceful protests hence option (c) is correct.
Question 1 - Option (c) is the correct answer.
Explanation - A plain reading of the passage indicates that option (c) is correct.
Question 2 - Option (a) is the correct answer.
Explanation - The author has stated that tribal people only carved provisions of Constitution on stones so allegation of attack with sticks and traditional weapons appears to be sheer misreporting of incident by the police.
Question 3 - Option (d) is the correct answer.
Explanation - A plain reading of the passage indicates that option (d) is correct.