Legal Reasoning Important Practice Questions

Legal Reasoning Important Practice Questions

 

Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow-  ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ ​​ 

Passage I

The traditional judicial function is to decide disputes. We, in India, inherited the adversarial common law system complete with checks and balances to ensure that it is an aggrieved person who initiates the litigation in the prescribed manner and proves his case with legally admissible evidence. Crucially, this adversarial system also places limitations on the judge so that the exercise of judicial power is objective and based on what is properly on record. These limitations require the judge to be bound by the pleadings, issues raised and evidence led. The judge is to strictly adhere to procedural law in order to ensure a level playing field for both disputing parties, and to decline relief if it requires the judge to legislate or impinge on policy issues. The common law jurisprudence underscores that the judicial role is essentially one of adjudication, while it is for the legislature to legislate and the executive to make policy.

 

This first ever Public Interest Litigation (PIL), popularly known as the Undertrial Prisoners’ case (Hussainara Khatoon, 1979) was filed on 11 January 1979 and was premised on a novel interpretation of Article 32 of the Constitution to the effect that the language of this Article did not preclude a person from moving the Supreme Court, without even a power of attorney or vakalatnama, on behalf of such disempowered prisoners to call upon the Court to discharge its own constitutional obligation under Article 32 to protect their guaranteed fundamental rights.​​ 

 

PIL, as conceived, was a remedial jurisprudence. It was a non-adversarial, collaborative and investigative strategy, formulated to protect the fundamental rights of the marginalised and destitute. Given such remedial purpose of PIL, the checks and balances of the common law system referred to above on the litigant and the judge became somewhat unnecessary. As far as the petitioner was concerned, the principle of locus standi was relaxed and so was the prescribed manner in moving the court. A letter or telex to the Court was good enough. The Court could even act suo moto. The petitioner was relieved of the burden of proving the allegations or leading evidence.​​ Similarly, the judge was also relieved of the common law limitations on the exercise of judicial power. The judge could now play an active role and even go beyond the pleadings, issues and evidence on record. The judge could investigate into the allegations and set up committees to establish facts or to monitor or administer a situation.​​ 

Expansion of the scope of PIL also resulted in enabling a litigant to file a PIL, ostensibly in public interest but, in fact, to serve personal or private interests or with an oblique or extraneous motive, or merely for publicity. Such cases increased the docket of the Court and led to wastage of Court time and resources, at the cost of genuine pending cases. Imposition of costs for misuse of PIL did not really prove to be a deterrent to the unscrupulous litigant.

The PIL movement, with its inception in 1979, had brought concrete relief to millions of marginalized Indians at their doorsteps. However, with the expansion of the scope of PIL since the 1980s, the PIL movement has got hijacked over the decades by what has been loosely described as ‘middle class interests’ such as cases pertaining to the ban of smoking in public spaces, catching stray cattle and so on so forth. The kind of requirements now imposed by the Court to entertain a PIL enables the judge to cite “limits of the law” to dismiss any PIL which he or she is not inclined to entertain. Consequently, the use of PIL as an instrument to protect the human rights of the disempowered stands effectively blunted. And nowhere has this been more visible than the recent approach of the Court to the initial PILs which had unsuccessfully sought its intervention to ameliorate the dehumanizing and painful sufferings of the lakhs of migrants (including toddlers and children) on account of the lockdown in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic – a haunting spectacle that drew parallels with the horrors of the Partition.

Extracted with edits from:​​ ​​ https://thedailyguardian.com/revisiting-pil-jurisprudence/​​  by​​ The Daily Guardian,​​ June​​ 2020​​ ​​ ​​  ​​​​  ​​​​ 

1.​​ The first paragraph of the given passage discusses-​​ 

(a)​​ doctrine of separation of powers​​ 

(b)​​ doctrine of res judicata​​ ​​ 

(c)​​ doctrine of eclipse ​​ 

(d) None of the above​​ 

 

2.​​ The passage indicates that a PIL may come into being-​​ ​​ ​​  ​​​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ on filing of a PIL petition before court

(b)​​ on sending of a letter to the court​​ 

(c)​​ if the court itself takes cognizance suo moto​​ 

(d) All of the above​​ 

 

3.​​ Mr. A files a PIL before the Supreme Court alleging human rights violations in the State of U.P.​​ and​​ requests​​ the court to appoint a committee to investigate into the matter. The counsel appearing for​​ the contesting opposite party/State of U.P.​​ argues that the request of Mr. A for appointment of a committee cannot be entertained in a PIL.​​ Based on the given passage, choose the correct option from below-​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ the request for appointment of a committee can be entertained by the court

(b)​​ the request for​​ appointment of a committee cannot be entertained by the court

(c)​​ the request for appointment of a committee can be entertained by the court provided the State of U.P. does not object to the same​​ 

(d) None​​ of the above​​ 

 

4.​​ The phrase “file a PIL, ostensibly in public interest but, in fact, to serve personal or private interests” means​​ -​​ ​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ filing PIL for protection of only public interest​​ ​​ 

(b)​​ filing PIL for protection of both public and private interest​​ 

(c)​​ filing PIL for protection of only private interest

(d) filing PIL​​ alleging it to be in public interest but​​ actually seeking protection of private interest​​ 

 

5.​​ Filing of frivolous PILs results in-​​ ​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ increasing backlog of cases​​ 

(b)​​ wastage of resources​​ ​​ 

(c)​​ lesser availability of time for hearing other genuine cases​​ ​​ 

(d)​​ All​​ of the above

 

6. Misuse of mechanism of PILs means-​​ 

(a) filing​​ PILs for protection of private interest​​ 

(b) filing PILs for oblique motive​​ 

(c) filing PILs only for publicity

(d) All of the above​​ ​​ 

 

Passage II​​ 

Complaints of Sexual Harassment at the workplace are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. The Me Too movement is a prime example of the growing menace of sexual harassment. However, the dramatic change in the Indian legal landscape of Sexual Harassment first occurred in 1997 in the landmark case of Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan, which in 2013, promulgated into the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“the Act”) becoming the first codified legislation to deal with sexual harassment of women at the workplace. However, even after 7 years of enactment, the limited awareness in respect of procedures of redressal and consequences of the Act causes grave concern and serious impediments in the effectiveness of the Act.​​ ​​ 

 

Sexual harassment is broadly defined as the “unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication) namely, physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, making sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct of sexual nature”. It is condemned as a form of violation of the Fundamental Right of Gender Equality and the Right to Life and Liberty enshrined in the Indian Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21. International conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of​​ Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the Indian Government also includes both, the Right to Work with dignity and Protection against sexual harassment as fundamental Human Rights and view violations of sexual nature as a violation of the victim’s human rights. It is pertinent to mention that the definition adopted by India is in line with the definition provided under Recommendation 19 by the CEDAW.

 

Even though the words sexual assault and sexual harassment are used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. Sexual assault is widely defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent”. While, sexual harassment is a broader term, encompassing two categories of impermissible behaviour first, ‘quid pro quo’​​ or sexual coercion, meaning​​ implicit or explicit attempts​​ to obtain sexual favours​​ on the promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment contingent upon sexual cooperation​​ and second,​​ the hostile work environment or unsolicited sexual attention, which includes unwanted touching, gender harassment, or any other sexual behavior that directly or indirectly affects the work environment.​​ 

 

The offence of sexual harassment in India had no statutory reference till as late as 1997 and was primarily dealt with under S. 354 and S. 509 Indian Penal Code (IPC). At present, the laws pertaining to sexual harassment are the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Information-Technology Act, 2002, Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013.​​ 

 

One of the key prominent features of the Act is its exhaustive definitions of key terminologies. For instance, apart from sexual harassment, the Act also defines ‘Workplace’ in its widest sense as ‘any place visited by the employee arising out of or during employment’, in both organized and unorganized sectors including NGOs, co-operative society, educational institutions, hospitals, industry, and dwelling house. Furthermore, the Delhi High Court has aptly adopted a more expansive view in the case of Saurabh Kumar and held that with the advent of technology, the term ‘workplace’ cannot be restricted to ‘office’ and laid down the factors to be considered for such as proximity from the place of work amongst others.

 

Extracted with edits from:​​ https://thedailyguardian.com/sexual-harassment-at-workplace-a-critical-analysis/​​  by​​ The Daily Guardian,​​ June​​ 2020​​ ​​ ​​  ​​​​  ​​​​ 

1.​​ The given passage indicates that India has-

(a)​​ enacted national law relating to issue of sexual harassment​​ ​​ 

(b)​​ enacted national law and also adopted international laws relating to issue of sexual harassment​​ ​​ 

(c)​​ enacted national law but not adopted international laws relating to sexual harassment​​ 

(d)​​ None​​ of the above​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

 

2.​​ “Casting Couch” in Bollywood, the Indian film industry,​​ is an example of-​​ 

(a)​​ sexual assault​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

(b)​​ sexual harassment​​ ​​ ​​ 

(c)​​ both (a) and (b)​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

(d) None of the above​​ 

 

3.​​ Based on the given passage, it can be said that cases of sexual harassment of children are​​ most closely​​ dealt under-​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ Indian Penal Code​​ 

(b)​​ Information Technology Act, 2002​​ 

(c)​​ Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

(d)​​ Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013

 

4.​​ During imposition of lockdown throughout India, Mr. A, the CEO of an organization, calls​​ his employee Riya to his home to assign her work.​​ While discussing work, Mr. A tells Riya that he will give her a promotion in​​ the company in​​ return for sexual favours. Riya files a case for sexual harassment against Mr. A under the​​ Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013. However, Mr. A alleges that the said law is not applicable as it applies only to workplaces. Choose the correct option from below-​​ ​​ 

(a)​​ The​​ Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 is applicable in Riya’s case​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

(b)​​ The​​ Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 is not applicable in Riya’s case​​  ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

(c)​​ Can’t say ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

(d)​​ None of the above​​ ​​ 

 

Answer key with explanations  ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

Passage I

Question 1 - Option (a) is the correct answer.

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ doctrine of separation of powers deals with​​ independent functioning of the judiciary, legislature and executive​​ which is reflected in the line “The common law jurisprudence underscores that the judicial role is essentially one of adjudication, while it is for the legislature to legislate and the executive to make policy.....​​ ​​ 

 

Question 2 - Option (d) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ third​​ paragraph of the passage​​ discusses the various ways in which a PIL can come into being and indicates that option (d) is correct.​​ ​​ ​​ 

 

Question 3 - Option​​ (a) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ line “The judge could investigate into the allegations and set up committees to establish facts or to monitor or administer a situation​​ indicates that option (a) is correct.​​ 

 

Question 4 – Option (d) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ meaning of the word “ostensibly” and the context in which it has been used indicates that option (d) is correct.​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

 

Question 5​​ ​​ Option (d) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation –​​ The​​ fourth paragraph of the given passage indicates that option (d) is correct.​​ 

 

Question 6 -​​ Option (d) is the correct answer.

Explanation - The fourth paragraph of the given passage indicates that option (d) is correct.

 

Passage II

Question 1 - Option (b) is the correct answer.

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ line “It is pertinent to mention that the definition adopted by India is in line with the definition provided under Recommendation 19 by the CEDAW”​​ indicates that option (b) is correct.

 

Question 2 - Option​​ (b) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation​​ ​​ Casting Couch is an example of sexual coercion which is explained in third paragraph of the given passage as a category of sexual harassment hence option (b) is correct.​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ 

 

Question 3 - Option (c) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation​​ ​​ The​​ name of the law given under option (c) itself indicates that option (c) is correct.​​ 

 

Question 4 – Option (a) is the correct answer.​​ 

Explanation –​​ The last paragraph of the given passage states that the term ‘workplace’ mentioned in the​​ Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 also includes dwelling homes hence option (a) is correct.​​ 

 

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