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Sunday, August 29, 2010

IDIA Question Making Competition (Legal Reasoning)

- By Sahana Manjesh

What is IDIA?

Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA), is a nationwide program that aims to draw in talented students from marginalized and under-represented parts of India to the best national law schools in the country. Thus, students are identified and trained to crack CLAT, the joint entrance exam organized by 11 law schools. The program is in its first year and we have already selected around 50 students for training.

               What is the question making competition?
As part of the training given to IDIA students, we are looking for a bundle of outstanding questions in legal reasoning to prepare the students. Thus, this is a competition to select the best set of questions. You must submit 10 questions at the very minimum. The more creative and tougher the questions, the better!

What’s in this for you?

Lots of prize money to be won! The best set of questions get a prize of Rs. 3000, the second best Rs. 2000 and Rs. 1000 for the third place.

What kind of questions are we looking for?

We are looking to get from every participant (teams allowed) a set of ten questions (at the very minimum) in legal reasoning in any area of law that you like (a mixture of different laws is preferable). Remember that these are students who do not know anything about the law. We are testing for only aptitude for legal reasoning…and not for the knowledge of the law. So please do not assume any knowledge of the law…if you are using any legal concept or term, please explain its meaning in the problem itself. The student should be able to solve the problem by simply reading the legal principle or principles and then applying them to the fact situation.

Legal aptitude is also the ability to sift through a morass of facts and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant. Therefore, ensure also that your problems have a bunch of relevant and irrelevant facts thrown in, the more the merrier; we’d like the students to be able to sift out necessary information. We’d also like to get some really tough questions, so turn up the difficulty level! You will find at the end of this document two sample questions for guidance as to language and level of toughness. Please feel free however to come with a format that suits you best; we’d like you to work around with the options so that we can have a truly tough set of questions. The questions should be in the form of MCQs. Please note that the all questions submitted are free for use by the IDIA team and/or their partners in any manner they deem fir for the purpose of furthering the goals of the IDIA project.

Where and how do we submit?

Please mail in your questions to The questions must be sent in a word document along with details about the team. The entries must reach us before midnight of 20 September 2010. Questions must be accompanied with answers.

Sample Questions

Find below two sample questions for your guidance. You will notice that terms like “patent” have been explained in the question itself. The right option is the one in bold.

Sample Question 1


The law of country A stipulates that a patent shall not be granted for a method of medical treatment.

Explanations: (i) Treatment includes any act of diagnosis, therapy or surgery on the human body.

(ii) A patent is a legal monopoly granted to any inventor who discovers a new and useful technological invention. By virtue of this monopoly, the inventor has certain legal rights and can prevent others from manufacturing a product or using a process or method corresponding to that patent for a period of 20 years.

A is admitted to hospital after meeting with a car accident. As A is being operated, some of A’s blood is taken away for routine testing purposes. It is then discovered that A’s blood contains a rare protein that could be useful in fighting cancer. However, the blood cannot be stored for a long time. One of the doctors comes up with a new method of storing the blood without any risk of the blood disintegrating. Can this method be patented?

1. It cannot be patented, as it is not really new. Ways of storing things have been known to mankind for a long time.

2. It cannot be patented, as the method is not useful

3. It cannot be patented, since the method was discovered in the course of treating a human body.

4. It can be patented, since it is new and useful.

5. It cannot be patented, since doctors are in social service and should not be awarded monopolies.

6. It cannot be patented, since the method exploits the condition of an “accident” victim.

Explanation of the answer: since the method of keeping the blood stable has nothing to with “treatment” on the human body, it is not a method of medical treatment. Therefore, if new and useful, it is patentable.

Sample Question 2

(Please note that the reasoning given at the end of the answers is only for your guidance. You will only be required to send in questions with multiple choices.)

Given below are some principles that govern wills.

Principle 1. When there are two inconsistent clauses in a will, the last one will prevail.

Principle 2. If the same quantity or amount of something has been bequeathed (willed) twice to the same person in the will, then it is deemed to have been bequeathed just once. If however there are unequal bequests made, then the legatee (person benefitting from the will) is entitled to both.

Principle 3. If anything that has been bequeathed to a person is not in existence at the time of the death of the testator (person making the will), then the bequest will not take effect.

Sada Khush Raho lived a long and fruitful life. He had a wife, Patni, and two children- a daughter Putri and son Putra. While Putri was a responsible child always having pleased her family, Putra was a bit of an eccentric. In his lifetime, Sada Khush Raho had been a successful book store keeper, having built himself and his family a small fortune through sheer hard work. One day however, as he was arranging the newly arrived books in the shelves, he fell and broke his back, only to be bed ridden for the rest of his few remaining years. He then decided it was time to retire and so at the age of 78, having worked for the better part of his life, Sada Khush Raho put up his boots. When he turned 80, he had a premonition that he would not survive for long and hence decided to draw up a will to determine how his assets would devolve pursuant to his death. He passed away on 14.1.2010, a day shy of his 82nd birthday. The will that he had drafted is now to be executed. This is what his will looks like:

I, Sada Khush Rao, do hereby will that my assets be devolved in the following manner:

• I leave to my daughter Putri Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• I leave to my wife Patni Rs. 5, 00, 000.

• To my son Putra, I leave behind my blue ambassador car.

• Putri, my daughter, is to get Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• The site in Mysore is to be bequeathed to my grandson Yuvaraja.

• I leave to my wife Stridhani Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• The site in Mysore is to be bequeathed to my granddaughter Yuvrani.

Now apply the principles governing wills to answer the following questions:

1. How much will Putri receive under the will?

a. Rs. 5, 00, 000

b. Rs. 10, 00, 000

c. Rs. 20, 00, 000

d. None of the above

Reason: Since there are equal bequests made to Putri, she is entitled to only one.

2. How much does Patni get?

a. Rs. 10, 00, 000

b. Rs. 5, 00, 000

c. Rs.15, 00, 000

d. None of the above

Reason: Since there are unequal bequests made to Patni, she is entitled to both.

3. On 14.1.2009, the family blue ambassador was sold for Rs. 1, 50, 000. What does Putra get on his father’s death under the will?

a. Nothing, the car has been sold and hence this part of the will not take effect.

b. He will get Rs. 1, 50, 000 for that was what was recovered upon its sale.

c. He should get the equivalent of the market price of the car from his father’s estate.

d. None of the above.

Reason: The car has been sold meaning it is not in existence any more.

4. Who gets the site in Mysore?

a. Yuvaraja

b. Yuvarani

c. Both

d. Neither

Reason: When inconsistent bequests are made, the last one will prevail.

This note has been prepared by Sahana Manjesh, a 3rd year student at NLSIU, Bangalore.

Images from here and here.

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