programme

Introduction to Law

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreNA4

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon semester 2019

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Saumya Uma

Email of course coordinator: saumya@aud.ac.in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: ‘Introduction to Law’ acts as a foundational course on law, legal principles, legal institutions and processes, and aims at equipping students to engage productively and critically with legal texts and materials. It prepares the students for other law courses in the programme.

Course Outcomes:

On the successful completion of the course, the students would be able to

  1. Gain familiarity with legal concepts, provisions and processes;
  2. Acquire the skill set requisite for engaging with law courses during the BA programme in Law and Politics, namely reading, comprehension and analysis of legal texts; and
  3. Have a basic awareness of rights in law.

 

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

The course is divided into four modules.

  • The first module focuses on encountering the law, and introduces the students to issues such as the role and functions of law, legal systems in the world, forms of law, the social context in which law operates as well as general principles of law.
  • The second module focuses on legislative processes, including skill-building on reading, understanding and analyzing statutory law.
  • The third module focuses on judicial processes aimed at strengthening the capacity of students to read and analyze judgments.
  • The fourth module promotes rights awareness in Consumer Protection Act, Right to Information Act and criminal law.

This is substantially a skill-based course, which incorporates clinical methods and class activities for hands-on experience. Two field visits have been scheduled, to a court and a police station, in order to bridge the gap between class room teaching and ground realities.

Module 1: Encountering the Law

 

Weeks 1-3

The first module introduces the student to the fundamentals of law. In the first week of the course, through an activity-based class discussion followed by a lecture, students will gain clarity on what is law, the need and functions of law. In the second week, students will gain familiarity with the major sources of law, and the major legal systems of the world - particularly the differences between common law and civil law. They will also be introduced to the forms, classifications, categories and branches of law. The third week will highlight some general principles of law. It will also focus on the inter-dependent and symbiotic relationship between law, social and political processes.

Topics

  • What is law, why do we need law, functions of law
  • Sources of law – primary & secondary sources
  • Major legal systems of the world – common law, civil law, religious law, customary law, hybrid
  • Forms of law - public vs. private, municipal vs. international, civil wrong vs. criminal wrong and their intersections, branches of law
  • General principles of law – such as separation of powers,independence of judiciary, rule of law, presumption of innocence, retrospective & prospective application of law, contempt of court, legal aid, speedy trial etc.
  • Social and political contexts of law – social and political processes shaping the law and vice versa, law as a tool of social and political reform, social order and the law

Week 1

What is law? Why do we need law? Functions of law

 

Essential Readings

  • Legal method by Dr. G.P.Tripathi, Central Law Publications, 2014, pp. 1-17, pp. 87-92
  • How to Study Law by Anthony Bradney, Fiona Cownie, Judith Masson, Alan C Neal and David Newell, 6th edition, 2014, pp. 1-8
  • Class Activity: Functions of Law

Week 2:

Sources of law; Major legal systems of the world, forms of law

Essential Readings

  • Glanville Williams: Learning the Law by ATH Smith, First South Asian Edition, 2013, pp. 1-24
  • Legal Method by Ian McLeod, Palgrave Macmillan Law Masters, 6th edition, 2008, pp. 23-42

 

Additional Readings

Week 3:

General principles of law, social and political contexts of law, the legal profession

Essential Readings

  • Law and Society – An Introduction to Law by Phil Harris, 5th edition, Butterworths, 1997, pp. 1-25
  • The Law and Society Movement by Lawrence M. Friedman, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Feb., 1986), pp. 763-780
  •  
  • Raising the Bar for the Legal Profession, by Dr. N.R.Madhava Menon, The Hindu, 15 September 2012

 

Additional Readings

  • How to Study Law by Anthony Bradney, Fiona Cownie, Judith Masson, Alan C Neal and David Newell, 6th edition, 2014, pp. 19-25
  • The Legal Profession: Search for Fresh Moorings, by Dr. N.R.Madhava Menon, http://www.mindtext.org/view/92/Legal_Profession:_Search_for_Fresh_Moorings/

Module 2:

Legislative Processes

 

Weeks 4-6

This module familiarizes students with legislative processes. In Week 4, the discussion will focus on the Indian Parliament and the process of law-making and passage of a Bill to an Act. Week 5 will provide students with practical skills necessary for reading and understanding a statute. Statutes will be projected on the white board, and an attempt will be made to read and understand their contents through the rules of interpretation learnt. Week 6 will focus on reading extracts from selected reports of the Law Commission of India, as illustrations of how they critique and shape the law, and pave the way for law reform. Reading of the reports will further demonstrate to the students the need for reading statutes in a holistic manner - in a historical perspective, within contemporary social and political contexts, and in relation with other statutes in existence.

Topics

  • Indian Parliament and the process of law-making (from pre-legislative process onwards)
  • Role of Parliamentary Standing Committees
  • Role of people’s and civil society groups’ participation in legislative processes
  • Types of Bills and legislations
  • Anatomy of a legislation – internal aids
  • Rules of statutory interpretation – external aids
  • Law Commission reports and shaping of the law
  • Reading statutes in a holistic manner

Week 4: Indian Parliament and processes of law-making

Essential Readings

Legal method by Dr. G.P.Tripathi, Central Law Publications, 2014, pp. 205-214

Week 5: Rules of statutory interpretation

 

Essential Readings

  • Thinking Like a Lawyer: A New Introduction to Legal Reasoning, by Frederick Schauer, Harvard University Press, 2009, pp. 148-170
  • Glanville Williams: Learning the Law by ATH Smith, First South Asian Edition, 2013, pp. 121-142

 

Additional Readings

  • Justice G.P.Singh, Principles of Statutory Interpretation, 14th edition, LexisNexis, 2016, Chapter 2, pp. 64-154
  • How to Study Law by Anthony Bradney, Fiona Cownie, Judith Masson, Alan C Neal and David Newell, 6th edition, 2014, pp. 106-109
  • Class activity: Reading & understanding a statute through the internal aids (the relevant statute will be intimated to the class in advance)

Week 6: Understanding reports of the Law Commission of India and other government reports

Essential Readings

  • Extracts from relevant Law Commission reports (will be intimated to the class)
  • Source: http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/
  • Class activity: Reading extracts of Law Commission reports and other government reports in groups (with guided questions), followed by a presentation.

Module 3

Judicial Processes

 

Weeks 7-9

In week 7, the course begins its focus on judicial processes. Building on the foundation created by the two prior modules, in this module, the focus will be on the functioning of the judiciary, understanding court processes, reading and making sense of various types of judgments and a familiarization with law reports.

In week 7, students will gain familiarity with the structure and classification of courts in India. In week 8, a field visit to a court is scheduled, in order to provide students practical exposure to court processes. In week 9, the students will become accustomed to parts of a judgment, and gain insights into legal reasoning in judgments – which will aid in understanding and analyzing judgments. There will be an attempt to read and understand a judgment in class. The students will also be oriented to types of judgments and orders, majority and dissenting opinions and their import.

Topics

  • Introduction to the judicial system
  • Structure and classification of courts and tribunals in India
  • Parts of a judgment
  • Legal reasoning in judgments - ratio decidendi & obiter dicta
  • Types of judgments and orders, majority, concurring & dissenting opinions
  • Using law reports, understanding citations

Week 7: Introduction to the Indian judicial system (courts and tribunals)

 

 

 

Essential Readings

  • The Indian Judicial System by Punam S. Khanna, in ‘Towards Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Law in India’,
  • Kamala Sankaran & Ujjwal Kumar Singh (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2007
  • India’s Judiciary: the Promise of Uncertainty by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in Devesh Kapur & Pratap Bhanu Mehta (eds.), Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005

 

Additional Readings

  • Legal method by Dr. G.P.Tripathi, Central Law Publications, 2014, pp. 177-204

Week 8: Field visit to a court

 

  • Briefing prior to the field visit with check list of things to be observed
  • Field visit
  • De-briefing and consolidation of learnings after the field visit.

Week 9:

Reading & understanding judgments

Essential Readings

  • Legal Method by Ian McLeod, Palgrave Macmillan Law Masters, 6th edition, 2008, pp. 148-1162, 208-222
  • Determining the Ratio Decidendi of a case by Arthur L. Goodhart, Yale Law Journal, Vol. XL, No. 2, December 1980

 

Additional Readings

  • Learning Legal Rules: A Students’ Guide to Legal Method and Reasoning, by James Holland and Julian Webb, 8th edition, July 2013, pp. 181-228
  • Glanville Williams: Learning the Law by ATH Smith, First South Asian Edition, 2013, pp. 93-120
  • Class activity: Reading a judgment (to be intimated to the class in advance)

Module 4

Know Your Rights

 

Weeks 10-12

The final module of the course is intended to create an awareness of basic rights in law. The areas of focus are rights in criminal law, consumer rights and right to information. A field visit to the local police station is included to enhance practical knowledge in engaging with processes of criminal law.

Week 10:

Consumer rights & the law, right to information

 

Essential Readings

Week 11:

Fundamentals of rights in criminal law

 

Essential Readings

  • Laws Relating to Crimes in India by B.B.Pande, in ‘Towards Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Law in India’, Kamala Sankaran & Ujjwal Kumar Singh (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2007
  • Access to Criminal Justice – Towards an Effective Right by S.Muralidhar, in ‘Towards Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Law in India’, Kamala Sankaran & Ujjwal Kumar Singh (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2007
  • Video clip – 10 tips to deal with police officer – law on arrest (3.43 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpdfKfoA6PM
  • Field visit to Moti Nagar police station – briefing prior to the visit with check list + de-briefing and consolidation of learnings after the field visit

 

Additional Readings

  • Monica Sakhrani (2008), Citizens Guide to Criminal Law, New Delhi: Universal Law Publishing

Week 12:

Consolidation of course contents

 

  • Open hour
  • Revision
  • Feedback and evaluation
  • Class activity: Quiz

 

Assessment Details with weights: 

Mid-semester exams

40%

Reports of field visits (15% x 2)

30%

Quiz

20%

Class participation

10%