Legal Notes


PCS (J) Notes: Jurisprudence, Negligence



Negligence is culpable carelessness. That means the absence of such care as it was the duty of the defendant to use. It does not necessarily consist in thoughtlessness or inadvertence. A is guilty of negligence, if he drives furiously into a crowd. A may know that he is exposing others to risk.

Negligence is failure to use sufficient care.

Carelessness may exist to any degree. The degree depends on the risk to which others are exposed. The risk depends on:

  1. The magnitude of the threatened evil and
  2. The probability of

What is the yard stick of care required by Law ?

The answer is mat the “Standard of care” of which nature is capable. ‘A’ is not liable for the harm ignorantly done by him. This harm he could have avoided with fore-thought. A is liable if he knowingly fails to take steps to stop the harm.

The facts which help to find out the standard required are:

  1. The magnitude of the
  2. The dangerous form of the

By driving the train at 50 miles per hour, a railway company may cause a fatal accident. But, if the speed is 10 miles per hour perhaps no accident happens. But his saving is done by causing great inconvenience. Hence, the company is not liable.

In professions, want of skill or competence amounts to negligence. The person is expected to use such skill & knowledge, as is necessary for reasonable efficiency. If he is below this, he is negligent and hence liable. An ignorant physician who kills his patient is liable not because he is ignorant, but because being unskillful he ventures to do an act which calls for qualities which he does not possess.


PCS (J) Notes: Jurisprudence, Liability



Ch.6     Liability:

Liability or responsibility is the word or tie that comes into existence as a result of the wrongful act of an individual. This is called Vinculum juris by which a man who is under it, must do certain things. A man’s liability consists in these things which he must suffer. It is the ultimatum of the law. It has its sources in the Supreme will of the State. According to Salmond, liability or responsibility is the bond of necessity that exists between the wrong doer, and the remedy. “He who commits a wrong is said to be liable or responsible for it”.

Liability may be divided either as civil or criminal or as remedial or penal. In the case of civil or remedial liability, the object of the law is the enforcement of right, whereas in case of criminal or penal liability the purpose is the punishment of the wrong-doer. All criminal liability is penal. Civil liability on the other hand may be either penal or remedial.

Measure of Penal liability : Mens rea:

The basic principle of a liability is embodied in the legal maxim. “Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”. [The act alone does not amount to guilt, it must be accompanied by a guilty mind, “mens rea”]. Hence, there are two conditions to be fulfilled before penal liability can be imposed on a person. It is not enough that a man has done some act. Before the law can justify punishment, an enquiry must be made into the mental attitude of the doer. It is the combination of physical and mental elements that constitutes penal liability. It is not enough to •convict an accused charged of the offence of murder to prove that he has killed another. It should further be proved that he did it intentionally, willfully and deliberately. According to Salmond, generally a man is penalty responsible for those wrongful acts which he does either willfully or negligently.

There are three aspects of penal liability viz., conditions, incidence and measure of penal liability. According to Salmond these three elements should be taken into consideration in determining the measure of criminal liability, namely, motive of the offender, the magnitude of the offence, character of the offender. Where there is no inadvertence or negligence, punishment is generally unjustifiable. Hence in inevitable accidents or mistake it is in general a sufficient ground of exemption from penal responsibility.

Ex. A driver knowing fully well, that the bus is not having the breaks, insists to drive the bus; In consequence the bus has gone out of control and has resulted in an accident injuring B.

This is an act committed intentionally and hence the driver is liable for punishment. Here the “Mens Rea” (blame worthy mind) is there. But if the bus has been in good condition as regards breaks system, then while driving, if the accident happens, it could have been said that the accident is inevitable. It has taken place accidentally. Here the driver has no idea of accident but it is due to failure of the breaks the accident has inevitably occurred.

Father was sleeping in a room which was dark and there was a gun kept loaded in that room. His son entered the room, in darkness; the son pressed the trigger of the gun thinking it to be a switch which resulted in firing of the gun resulting in the death of the father. Father was the victim of the bullet but the son had no intention to kill his father. This is inevitable accident not murder.


PCS (J) Notes: Jurisprudence, Theories of Punishment and their relative Merits & Demerits



Ch. 5-1    Theories of    punishment and their relative Merits & Demerits:

There is a complexity of social phenomena which is the main cause for commission of crimes. There are certain important social and personal facts which are mainly responsible for crimes.

These are :-

Physical Causes, mental forces, economic causes, political reasons, personal causes etc.

There are many theories concerning the justification of the pun- ishment. As Salmond observes the ends of criminal justice are four in number: Deterrent, Preventive, Reformative and Retribution.

The preventive theory concentrates on the prisoner, but seeks to prevent him, from offending again in the future. The reformative theory sees, in the readjustment of the prisoner to the demand of society as the greatest need of the criminal law. The deterrent theory emphasises the necessity for protecting society, for so punishing the prisoner that he will be barred from breaking the law.

  1. Deterrent theory :

The chief end of the law of crime is to make the evil-doer an example & a warning to all persons who are like minded with him. According to this theory offences are the result of conflicts of interests, between that of the wrong-doer and the society. Punishment makes the commission of an offence .an ill bargain for the offender, and debars the potential offender from the commission of crimes. Creation of “fear” in the mind of persons is the essence of this theory.

This theory is criticized as ineffective. During Queen Elizabeth’s time, when severe punishment was publicly given to pick pockets, it was found that other pick pockets were busy in. the crowd which had come to see the punishment!

ii)   Preventive theory :

The object of punishment is to prevent repetition of the crime by rendering the offender incapable of again committing the offence. Preventive theory of punishment aims at physical restraint. Prison became an institution because of this theory. In modern times, the disability aspect has been emphasised by statutes conferring power to sentence habitual offenders to preventive terms of imprisonment, penalties, forfeiture or suspension of driving license etc.

Hi) Retributive theory :

This theory is based on “evil for evil”. An offence creates an imbalance in the society, and punishment or suffering is the medium through which the balance is restored. It is simply the theory of private vengeance. Revenge is the right of the injured person according to Salmond. It means that a man should be so dealt with as he has done with others. The basis of this theory is, that evil should be returned for evil. To suffer punishment is to pay a debt due to the law that had been violated. The rule is “A head for a head, a tooth for a tooth and a nail for a nail”.

  1. Reformative theory:

The object of this theory is to reclaim the offender, to make him a useful member of the society by bringing about a change in his character and to give a chance to him to lead a free life in Society. According to this theory criminals are generally abnormal persons and the interest of the society is subserved by leaving these persons to the normal law abiding individuals. The stress, here is shifted from crime to the criminal. We must cure our criminals and not kill them. E.g. Educational discipline of the criminal.

Corporeal (physical) punishment is deemed to be brutal and degrading both to the offender and to those who inflict it. Preventive punishment turns the offender into a hard headed criminal. The treatment of the criminal should be humane, his case history should be studied and appropriate measures taken to keep him away from the wrong-doing. Eg. The cases of juvenile offenders First offender’s and sex offenders, should be dealt with carefully. Nothing is gained by sending them to the prison to the company of hardened criminals.

Rather they must not be sent to reformative schools which are houses of corrections.

The theory is against all types of corporeal punishment; it commends education, training & proper social moral instructions when in prison. Modern techniques should be used to reform him, to change his attitude and approach to life.

Punishment is not an end itself. It is a means to reform and to rehabilitate the prisoner. Hence, the prisoner should be cured, and not killed.

Conclusion :

Salmond is of the opinion that primary importance is to be given to the deterrent elements is criminal justice. The reformative element should not be over-looked. But neither must be allowed to assume prominence. It is a question of time, place, circumstance and nature of the offence, that should be applied on each case.


PCS (J) Notes: Jurisprudence, Legal Personality




Ch. 4 Personality:

  1. The personality of a human being means the possession of certain characteristics particularly belonging to E.g.; Power of thought, of speech etc.

Hence, there are certain attributes which make a human being a person having the personality recgnised by law. If these attributes are absent then that human being is not a person at all. E.g. Slaves are like chattels (things) and therefore not persons at all. Conversely, in law there are persons who are not men; e.g., a municipal corporation, A joint stock company etc. are ‘persons’ though they are not human beings. Similarly an idol is a person.

According to jurisprudential theory a person is any being who is capable of rights and duties. Hence any being who is capable of rights and duties is a person. Persons are the substances. The rights and duties are attributes. This is the juridical significance of personality which has gained legal recognition capable of rights and duties is a person.

  1. Persons are of two kinds:
    1. Natural
    2. Legal

A human being is a natural person. Legal persons are beings who are treated for purposes of law as human beings.

In olden days if an ox gored a person to death, the ox was guilty of homicide and it was stoned to death and its flesh not eaten. This is no longer the law to-day. A beast is incapable of legal rights and legal duties. Its interests have no recognition in law. Today if an animal causes hurt to a person, there is no wrong. But the responsibility is no the owner of the animal. However, cruelty to animals is a criminal offence and to that extent the animal has a legal right. A ‘Trust’ may be created to benefit a particular class of animals. Eg. Race horses, tigers etc. as beneficiaries. They are entitled to treatment according to the trust dead. However, if the interests of the animal conflict with the interest of human beings, the interest of the human being will prevail.

  • Dead Man:

In so far as dead human beings are concerned, the principle is that personality commences on birth and ceases to exist at death. Therefore dead men are not persons in the eye of law. Actually they have laid down their legal personality with their lives. They are destitute of rights and liabilities. They have no rights because they have no interests. A dead man will not continue to be the owner of his property after death. In fact, he is not a owner in the interval between his death and the entry of an executor or an administrator or a successor. But this does not mean that law will ignore the desires and interest of the dead man.

There are three spheres where a man has anxieties after his death.

These are the dead man’s body, his reputation and his estate.

Hence law wants to protect such interests.

In respect of the dead body the corpse is the property of nobody. It cannot be disposed of by will; and, wrongful dealing with it will not amount to theft or hurt. But criminal law, secures a dead man, a decent burial and the violation of the dead body or the grave amounts to a criminal offence. Hence the dead man is protected in respect of his body.

A trust for maintenance of a tomb is void. The property is for the use of the living, not of the dead.

Similarly the reputation of the dead is protected under the criminal law of defamation. Libel or slander of the dead is punishable.

In respect of the estate of a dead man, he is allowed to regulate the action of the successors under a will.

iv)        En vetre as mere:

In respect of unborn persons law does not prevent a man from owning property before he is born. Of course his ownership is contingent because he may not be born at all! Hence, a man may settle property on his wife and unborn persons. Of course, restrictions have been imposed on such powers so as not to arrest property for generations ( Transfer of Property Act , Refer Unborn person, perpetuities etc).

A child in the mother’s womb is already born for purposes of law. As Justice Coke pointed out, law has conferred certain consideration on the apparent expectation of birth. Thus in respect of property, an unborn child is considered as a child born for the purposes of:

  1. Acquisition of
  2. Acquisitions, subject to the law against perpetuities

The problem is not solved whether an unborn person can have a personal and proprietary right. It has been held that a posthumous child is entitled to damages for the-death caused by the defendant. Wilful or negligent injury inflicted on the child which dies after being born alive amounts to murder.

A pregnant woman cannot be condemned and executed to death until the mother is delivered of the child. There is a conflicting decision of the English Court.

Due to the negligence of a Railway company there was a collision. There was a child in a mother’s womb which received certain injuries. The court held: That the company was not liable. •

The unborn child has a contingent right and it must be born as a living human being. If the child is born dead the legal personality falls away ab initio. If the child dies in the womb or is still-born, his inheritance fails but he gets all the rights even if he is alive for an hour after birth. Law wants to protect the interests of unborn person.


PCS (J) Notes: Jurisprudence, Legal Rights and Duties


Ch. 3-1 Legal Rights and Duties :

Rights are concerned with ‘interests’. Rights are defined as interests protected by moral or legal rules. But yet rights are different from interests. Interests are things which are to a man’s advantage. Eg. He has interest in his freedom or his reputation. If we say that a person has an interest in his reputation, what we mean is, that he stands to advantage of good name in the society, But, if we say that the person has a right to his reputation what we mean is, that others should not take this from him.


A duty is an act which one ought to do. Not doing of, amounts to a ‘wrong’. A duty may be moral or legal.

It is a legal duty not to sell adulterated milk. If a person is curious, about his neighbours, there is no legal duty not to be so curious, this is a moral duty and therefore cannot be enforced through the courts.

Legal Rights : Characteristics ;

According to Salmond every legal right has the following basic characteristics:

  1. It is vested in a person, that person may be called the owner of it, or the subject of i.e, the person entitled. E.g. A buys a house from B. A is the owner of the house acquired.
  2. It avails against a person. It is on that other person that a corresponding duty is imposed. That person may be called the person bound, or as the person of incidence. E.g. A is the owner of the house. All others are bound by duty not to interfere etc.
  3. Right obliges the person bound, to an act or omission in favour of the person This is the content of the right E.g. others not to interfere with the enjoyment of the house property, by A.
  4. The act or omission relates to a It is called as the object or subject matter of the right. E.g. land, house, goods etc.
  5. Every legal right has a This means certain facts or events by reason of which the right has become vested in the owner E.g. The sale deed executed by vendor B, in favour of A (the vendee). Title vests in A.

A buys goods from B. A becomes the subject or the owner of the goods so acquired. The person, bound by the duty are the persons in general (against the world i.e., right in Rem).

The content of the right is non-interference with the enjoyment of goods. The object or the subject matter is the house. The title of the right is the conveyance or sale deed by which A has acquired from B.

An ownerless right does not exist and is not recoginsed by law.

Legal rights in a wider sense:

In a wider sense the legal rights do not necessarily correspond with duties. Here a rule of law confers a benefit or advantage over a person. There are four classes of rights.

  1. Rights in a strict
  2. Liberties
  3. Powers
  4. Immunities

Each of the above has corresponding :

  1. Duties
  2. No Rights
  3. Abilities
  4. Disabilities

1.       Rights and duties:

Legal right in the ‘strict sense’ has all the 5 characteristics, and bears a corresponding legal duty. Right to reputation, right to landed property, right to service under a contract etc. These form the bulk of the rights in the legal world, there are corresponding duties on others.

2.       Liberties and no rights:

Legal liberty is a benefit which a person derives without legal duty on others. A is at liberty to express his opinions on public affairs. But A has ‘no liberty’ to publish a defamatory matter. A may defend himself against violence but he has ‘no right’ to take revenge upon B who has injured him.

  1. Powers and liabilities:

The power to make a ‘Will, or the power of appointment of an executor. The powers vested in the judges to discharge their functions. These powers have no corresponding duties on others.

But, it may be noted that liability may be correlative of power. e.g. i) An unfaithful spouse may be divorced, ii) Right or power to marry.

iii) Tenant under liability, as tenancy may be terminated by re – entry of owner.

4.       Immunities and disabilities:

It is an exemption, i.e., non-subjection e.g. immunity from ordinary criminal courts given to ambassadors. Therefore an immunity creates no disabilities. Disability is the absence of power. He who has no title cannot pass a title. This is a disability of the transferor. A Minor is under a legal disability to be a party to a contract.

Kinds of Legal Rights:

Ch. 3-2 Perfect and Imperfect rights:

A perfect right is one which corresponds to a perfect duty (The duty is recoginsed by law and is enforceable) Eg. Breach of contract. The right is protected and can be enforced by suing for compensation or for specific performance.

Imperfect right is one which is recoginsed by law but is not enforceable. E.g. Time barred debts. Such a right to recover exists but not through the courts. It may be noted that an imperfect right is a good defense: e.g. when time barred debt is paid by debtor, the creditor may defend his position. An imperfect right may be a sufficient security, E.g. Pledge or mortgage, though the debt is barred still the property remains a security. Further an imperfect right may have the capacity to become perfect eg. acknowledgment of a debt barred by limitation.

Rights against State, are considered imperfect though they are legal rights. In one sense, they are not enforceable against the State, as the State is the strength of it. From lawyer’s view, they are enforceable against the State.

Ch. 3-3 Positive and Negative rights:

A positive right corresponds to the positive duty under which the person should do some positive act. A has a right not to be pushed into water, if pushed into water there is a negative duty on others to pull A out of water.

A negative right corresponds to a negative duty; The right gives a benefit; Acts & Omissions belong to this group.

Ch. 3-4 Rights in Rem and right in personam:

Right in rem is a real right available against the world at large. A has a right in rem to the peaceful enjoyment of his property i.e., no-body should interfere. Right in personam is a personal right available against a particular person or persons. If A leases out his house his right to receive the rent, is the right against the tenant only. The right of C, a creditor to receive the loan amount from the debtor B, is a right in personam.

Ch. 3-5 Rights in Re-propria and rights in Re-aliena:

Right in re-propria means right over one’s own property; title, ownership etc. Right in re-aliena means right of a person over the property of another. Eg. tenants rights encumbrance right etc. A right in re-aliena is an encumbrance on the property imposing restrictions on the owner. Eg. Mortgage or charge.

In respect of a right in re-aliena, there is an encumbrance, but the ownership and other rights are vested in the owner.

The right of a tenant or a mortgagee in possession of the property etc. are rights in-aliena. However, the ownership remains with the owner who has the rights in re-propria.

Hence, all encumbrances, are rights in re-aliena: Leases, servitudes, securities and trusts.

In respect of bailor and bailee, the right of the bailee is right in re-aliena but the bailor has rights in re-propria.


PCS (j) Notes: Jurisprudence, Sources of Law


Chapter. 2-1 Sources:

The  major  sources of law are:

  1. Legislation,
  2. Precedents,
Ch. 2-2 Legislation: as a superior source: over Precedent:

Salmond opines that ‘Case law is gold in the mine, a few grains of the precious metal to the ton of useless matter, while Statute law is the coin of the realm ready lor immediate use’.

Legislation is the main source of law. It consists of the declaration of legal rules by a competent authority like the Parliament or the other legislative bodies. It is an enunciation of principles having the force of law. The courts recognise these as law.

Legislation also called Statute Law has become the standard form of law. The earlier forms, that is precedent, custom based on religious faith or practice or revelations of men have lost much of their efficacy. The result is that legislation is the most powerful and the latest instrument in legal growth.

Advantages   or    virtues   of    Legislation:  

i)    Abrogative   and Reformative Powers:

The first virtue is its abrogative power. It can abolish an existing law or make a new law. But, a precedent has constitutive efficacy-it is capable of producing very good law. But its operation is irreversible. Once it is stated it stands But, legislation can bring about reforms. Hence, legislation has destructive and reformative power.

ii) Efficiency:

The duty of the judiciary is to interpret the law and apply it . The legislature is superior as its duty is to make the law; administrators operate the law. Thus, there is a division in the labour and hence much efficiency.

iii)   Prospective Operation:

Statute declares the law before the commission of any act to which it applies, thus it fulfills the principles of Natural Justice. Law will be known before it is enforced. A judicial precedent creates and declares in the very act of applying and enforcing it (e.g .Ryland V. Fletcher).

iv)   Law of future:

Legislation can make Acts to meet circumstances not yet arisen.

Precedent requires definite circumstances before the court.

Legislation can fill up any vacancy i.e., settle any doubt that may come to the attention of the legislature. But, a bad precedent remains until another case comes up before the court for solving the doubt or for overruling it.

v)  Superiority in form:

The legislature produces the law in the Statute form i.e. as Acts which are of standard form. Statute law is*brief, clear and easily know-able and accessible. But, case law is hidden deep and buried from sight in the huge records of litigation & Reports.

Hence, case law is like gold that is in the gold mine, hidden in the rocks. But, Statute law is like a coin ready for immediate use.

Salmond appreciates the perfection of the form of Statute Law. Statute Law is authoritative, and it is the duty of the Courts in interpret the words and their true meanings. But, in applying case law, the courts are dealing with the ideas and principles. Statute law is rigid, but case law has the merit that it appeals to reason and justice and hence flexible and adaptation is possible.

Only when the words in the Statute are not clear, that the courts will have to interpret with reference in social purpose.

Ch. 2-3 Precedent:

For the purpose of jurisprudence the sources may be divided into ‘legal and historical source’s. The legal sources are authoritative, have a right in the courts and have helped the course of legal developments. E.g. The statutes, precedents writings of eminent jurists like Bentham, Austin etc.

The historical sources are not authoritative, cannot have claim as a right in the courts. Precedent therefore is a legal source.

The distinguishing characteristic feature of English law is the judicial precedent. The unwritten law or the common law is purely a product of decided cases, from 13th Century. English judges have contributed considerably for the development of common law.

A judicial precedent speaks in England with authority. It is

not merely evidence of the law but a source of it, and the courts are bound to follow the law that is so established.

Precedent means ‘anything said or done furnishing a rule for subsequent conduct’. Judicial decisions speak of truth and hence are followed in later cases. If so followed, such a decision becomes a precedent.

The doctrine of precedent has two meanings. In the first place in a loose meaning, it means that precedents are reported, may be cited and will probably be followed by the courts. In the second i.e. in the strict sense it means that precedents not only have great authority but in certain circumstances they must be followed.

The two theories have many supporters. Sometimes a precedent may be unsatisfactory. The rule so laid down may be be reversed by the Parliament in making the law. Further, the judges have power to reverse their own decisions and correct the mistakes.

Broadly speaking precedents are:

  1. Authoritative and Persuasive.

This perhaps is the solution for the controversy between the two theories.

An authoritative precedent is one which judges must follow whether they approve of it or not.

A persuasive precedent is one which the judges are under no obligation to follow, but must take it into consideration and attach such weight as it deserves i.e. it must by itself merit consideration in the eyes of the judges.

Hence, it is true to say that authoritative precedents are legal sources of law but persuasive precedents are historical sources.

  1. Authoritative precedent:

The decisions given by the superior courts are the authoritative precedents which must be followed. Hence the decisions of the House of Lords are authoritative in England. In India the decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on all the courts and authorities within the territory of India. (Art.141 Constitution of India). A High Court decision is binding on the lower courts under its jurisdiction in that State.

  1. Persuasive precedent:

Persuasive precedents in England are the following:

Foreign decisions e.g. Decisions of U.S. Supreme Court. The decision of other superior courts in the commonwealth countries. Privy council decisions. Judicial dicta.(Means observation stated by the way).

In. India, so far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the decisions of the foreign courts, of the Privy Council and of the U.S. Supreme Courts etc. are persuasive in character. To the High Courts in India, decisions of the Privy Council, U.S. Supreme Court and decisions of other foreign courts are persuasive.

When a precedent is referred to in a court, it is accepted or disregarded. But if it is authoritative, it is binding and should be accepted.

If it is persuasive the court may accept or disregard it.

Disregarding may be of two kinds:

  1. It may over-rule it or
  2. It may refuse to follow

Such a overruled precedent is null and void. The courts of equal authority have no power to over-rule each other’s decisions. If two High Courts have given conflicting opinions a legal anomaly is created. This can be resolved only by the Supreme Court.

The meaning of over-ruling is that ‘the supposed rule in that decision was not allowed at all. ‘Hence the intermediate transactions will be governed by the new rule decided. Overruling is retrospective subject to certain exceptions.

Ch. 2-4 Circumstances which destroy or weaken the binding force of precedents.
  1. Abrogation of decisions e. over-ruling of decisions.
  2. Reversal of a precedent on a different
  3. A precedent given in ignorance of the relevant
  4. A precedent which his inconsistent with a decision of a High Court or Supreme
  5. Precedent sub silentia (not fully argued)
  6. Erroneous decisions
1.   Abrogation:

This may happen when the legislature makes a statute to negative the precedent. There is abrogation when the higher judicial authority either over-rules or reverses a precedent. There is overruling when the Supreme Court declares that a ‘precedent’ (of a High Court or Supreme Court) is wrongly decided. E.g. The Supreme Court over-ruled Golaknath’s case, in Bharati’s case.

The position is that a case cannot be over-ruled by an obiter dictum (said by the way).

Over-ruling may be express or implied. Implied over-ruling is a doctrine of recent origin. In such a circumstances, the earlier case is deprived of its binding authority.

  1. Reversal on a different

It may happen that on appeal, a case may be affirmed or reversed on a different ground. This means, that if the appeal is on ground A, the decision of the appellate court may be on ground B. Nothing is said about ground A. This may create some difficulty. According to Salmond, in such cases, the decision is deprived of its absolute binding nature.

  1. Ignorance of Statute

A decision is not binding if it is given on ignorance of a statute or a subordinate legislation. This was decided by the House of Lords in Young V. Bristol. This is so even if the court knew the existence of a provision in a statute or rule.

Even a lower court may refuse to follow a precedent on such grounds.

  1. Overlooking the decision of higher

If a decision is given by a High Court, overlooking the Supreme Court precedent, then the High Court decision is a bad precedent

  1. Inconsistency among earlier decisions of the same

The general rule is that a court is not bound by its own previous decisions if they are conflicting. This may happen when the counsels have not referred to relevant authorities, or it may be that the court has acted in ignorance or forgetfulness of the cases. The binding force of such precedents is weakened. The subsequent court may over-rule the decision.

  1. Precedents sub silentio:

If the decision of the court does not perceive or look to the particular point of law involved, then there is sub silentio. If there are two points of law A & B and decision is given deciding on point A & not on point B(not argued) then there is sub silentio.

The leading case is Gerard V. Worth. If the previous court decides a case without argument, with reference to the point of law, without any citation or authority, such a decision is not binding.

  1. Decisions of equally divided courts:

Where the court is equally divided, in the technical sense there is no decision at all. Hence, such a precedent, has no force at all.

Ch. 2-5 Ratio decidendi :

What the Court decides generally, is the ratio decidendi or rule of law in a case before it. What it decides between the parties to the case, is binding on the parties. The parties under Res Judicata are barred from reopening the case after the final Court of authority makes the decision between them. If A sues B for negligent driving, parties A and B are bound by the decision of the final court.

There are circumstances, when the judgment will be against all the world i.e, in rem. That is it is binding on all third parties. For example, a nullity declaration of a marriage by the Court, determines the status of the parties, but the decision is binding on all.


The Ratio decidendi or rule of law is produced by the Court in its process of application by the judges. It should have been applied to the’parties in respect of live issues, argued on both sides. ‘

In the course of his judgment, the judge may refer to hypothetical situations, or may give his general reasoning. These are therefore not binding. They are called obiter dicta (observations made by the way) and hence, have no binding force. (Blackburn’s dicta are exceptions)

The Court declares the ratio, and, applies that to the facts determined by it. Later Courts, may not follow the ratio. They may distinguish or state exceptions to the earlier rule.

For example, in Bridges V. Hawkesworth the plaintiff P found a bundle of currency notes on the floor of the shop of the defendant. The Court applied the principle of “finding is keeping” and held that P was entitled to the notes. However, in S.S. Water Company V.Sharman two golden rings were found by D in the mud pool owned by P. The court, distinguished the earlier case and said, in that case, the notes had been found on the floor of the shop (public place), whereas, in this case, the rings were in the mud owned by P (private place). The Court held that P was entitled/

Difficulty in finding ratio :

It is always not easy to find out what the ratio is in some cases. Cases are there where the Court may not have supplied the reasons. There are other extreme cases, where the decision is too lengthy, and very difficult to find the ratio.

Methods to determine ratio :

Prof. Wambaugh has suggested the “reversal test”. This means, we must take the proposition of law (i.e.ratio) & reverse it (i.e., put the opposite of it) and, see whether that would change the decision. If it did, it is a ratio. This test is good but has its own limitations.

The second method is stated by Dr.Goodhart. This is the material facts theory. This means we must ascertain all the relevant facts of the case, as determined by the judge and also look to the decision in respect of them. That is the ratio. This test is more theoretical than practical according to Salmond.

When several separate judgments are given by the judges in a case, the difficulty in finding the ratio is all the more difficult for the Court. In such a case Lord Dunedin says, it is not the Courts duty to find out with great difficulty, the ratio, to be bound by it.

Ch. 2-6 Obiter Dicta :

Means “what is said by the way”. This is opposed to ration decidendi.

A ratio decidendi, is a proposition of law or a rule, enunciated by the Court. It should have been applied to the parties, in respect of live issues, and also argued upon in the case. Such a ratio is binding on the later Court. In suitable cases, that court may distinguish the earlier decision. The importance of the “ratio” is that it is binding on the later Court.

However, “obiter” is different. It refers to hypothetical situations or reasoning or circumstances referred to by the judge in his decision. These are generally the observations, made by the judge. The significance is that they are not binding. The Courts will not follow these observations.

It goes to the credit of Blackburn J, for his dicta, in some leading cases, are followed with respect, by the Courts. But, the universal rule is that the obiter dicta are not binding on the later Courts.

Ch. 2-7 Requirements of valid custom:

‘CUSTOM’ observes Salmond ‘is to society what law is to the State’. ‘Each is the expression and realisation and the measure of the society’s insight. The principles commend themselves to the community Custom embodies them, as acknowledged and approved not by the power of the state but by the public opinion of the society at large’.

A custom may be legal or conventional. Legal Custom has the force of the law is conventional in usage.

The following are the requirements of a valid custom, i)

Immemorial Antiquity :

The local custom should be long standing or of a fixed period which can be determined. Immemorial means beyond the memory of any living person. Hence, the custom must have been observed over a

period, beyond the memory of any living person, i.e., for over 100 years.

ii)  Continuity :

The custom must have been enjoyed continuously. If no living man can contradict the custom set up, it must be presumed to be valid.

iii)   Enjoyment as of right:

The custom must have been enjoyed as of right. If the custom has only been mentioned or followed by force or by stealth or with license it can have no claim to stand as a right. It must have been followed openly.

iv)   Certainty :

The custom must be certain, clear and definite. That which is vague or not impressive will fail.

v)   Reasonability :

The custom must be reasonable. This is the most complex and difficult of the requirements of a valid custom. What is reasonable or not is to be decided by the court in accordance with the prevailing notions of natural justice and public morality. Custom must not be either immoral or contrary to public utility.

vi)   Conformity with the general law :

A local custom will not be admitted if it conflicts with the fundamental principles of the law of the land.

vii)   Conformity with statute law :

The local custom must not conflict with any statute or any rule thereunder. ‘

viii)   Compatibility with other customs :

It must not be incompatible with other customs within the same locality. The court cannot sanction two hostile rules or customs.

 ix) Opinio juris sive necessitates :

“Jurists opinion as necessary”. The necessary mental element that the custom is obligatory and not merely optional. Such a conviction of mind is obligatory.

Reasons for reception of customary law as law :

  • Custom frequently contains principles of justice and public
  • Backing custom, there is an established usage which is the basis of its continuance for the




Ch. 1.1 Jurisprudence: Meaning & Value

Jurisprudence is derived from the Latin terms ‘Juris’ meaning legal and prudentia meaning “knowledge”. It is that science which deals with the “Knowledge of law“. It is defined as a study of the fundamental legal principles including their philosophical, historical and sociological bases, and, an analysis of legal concepts.

It is a type of investigation into the essential principles of law and the legal systems (Salmond). It is the science of the first principles of civil law. The legal concepts like contracts, torts or criminal law consist of a set of rules. It has no such legal authority and further it has no practical application. The jurists have a free approach in their investigations. Further, the method of enquiry in jurisprudence is different from other legal subjects.

The questions answered are: What is law ?

What it is ,for a rule , to be legal rule ? What distinguishes law from morality, etiquette etc.,

The main fields of investigation are the following:

  1. The nature of law, its sources: Administrative of Justice, statutory interpretation ,
  2. An analysis of:
  3. The legal concepts of right and of its kinds and
  4. Concepts like “intention”, “negligence” “ownership” “possession” “persons” “liability”, “obligations”, Substantive and procedural laws”

Ch. 1-2 Value of Jurisprudence:

Jurisprudence does not contain a sets of rules as in contracts or torts and also has no practical application. However, it has its own values, unique and distinctive.

  1. The subject has its own intrinsic
  2. Its researches have influenced other subjects in the field of political, medical, and social.
  3. It is educative, as it sharpens the lawyers own.
  4. Its method and explanations help resolve the complexities of Thus, theory helps law to solve problems and,
  5. Professional lawyers may get a glean into the sociology of law e., the realities of time, and, make them look-forward with a orientation.


Ch. 1-3 Schools:


There are three main schools of jurisprudence: They are 1. Analytical

  1. Historical 3. Ethical Schools.
  1. Analytical School:

Also called English School. It aims at a systematic legal exposition of the various principles. The  approach,  is dogmatic.  The  founder of this school is Austin. The school aims at analyzing the contents of the various legal notions past or present.

Main topics dealt with are:

  1. Analysis of the concept of civil
  2. Analysis of the relationship between systems of law.
  3. Analysis of sovereignty, administration of justice, theory of legislation, precedents, customs.
  4. An analysis of the concepts -of property, possession, ownership, contracts, trusts, obligations,
  1. Historical School:

The founder of this school is Savigny. It is also called continental school. It aims at examining the general or philosophical part of the legal theory. The approach is historical.

The purpose is to examine the historical evolution or the processes which ultimately lead to legal system. In other words, it examines ‘what it is, from what is was’. It deals with the origin and development of those fundamental principles and conceptions so essential in the philosophy of law. These are the same as those dealt with in the analytical school, but the approach is Historical.

The influence of social conditions on legal conceptions is emphsised. It examines now these concepts evolved through generations.

3.   Ethical School:

It deals with the general or philosophical part of the science of legislation.

The purpose is to set forth the law, not as it is or has been, but as it ought to be. It does not deal with the present but deals with the ideals for the future.

The theory of Justice in relation to law is the concept of this ethical school. Emphasising the ethical or moral significance of various topics is its main concern.

Grotius is called the father of this school. Kant and Hegel followed him, and developed further the ethical concepts.

In order to understand jurisprudence, as Salmond says, “A study of all the schools is essential because the three schools are closely related and interwoven.”


PCS (J) Notes: CPC, Commissions


Ch.8 Commissions (Order 26 Rules 1 to 22.)

The C.P.C. has provided for the appointment of a commission for the examination of a resident, within its jurisdiction, if that person is (i) exempted from attending the Court or is proved to be (ii) sick and infirm.

The persons who are exempted are:

  1. Persons resident outside the jurisdiction or who is about to go
  2. officers who are in service and who cannot attend with- out detriment to public interest.

Who may be the Commission:

The Court may appoint an advocate or pleader or any person at its discretion as a commission.

Commissions may be appointed,

  1. to make local investigations,
  2. to examine accounts to make
  3. to make scientific investigation or to make sale of movable


The Commission should discharge its functions as per the directions of the Court.

  1. It may examine the parties or any witnesses or any other person whom it deems
  2. Call for and examine documents and other relevant things.
  3. Enter any place or buildings at reasonable times, iv) Record objections to answer

Attendance, Summoning: The Commission is considered as a Civil Court, and is empowered to exercise its power as in C.P.C. (Of course, no penalties can be imposed.)

Returning of Commission: The court fixes the time within which the Commission should return. It should submit its report to the court with the evidence collected, depositions, documents etc.

Evidentiary Value: The evidence taken under a Commission should not be read as evidence without the consent of the other party, subject to certain exceptions.

When the commission submits its returns, it is dissolved, and, ceases to have any power.