Thanks for your responses on my first two blogs/articles. Now in the third article I would like to draw your attention to subjects of Law. I know that many students struggle in the approach to study Law Papers. There are some ways which I have observed and practiced for making the Law papers interesting and easy to learn. We will discuss the ideas in three parts. The first part here will be for some basic law terms, which you must know as a part of the Law Studies.
As you know, essence of any enactment is the BARE ACT passed by the Government. But many students neither know or read the Bare Acts and rely on materials and reference books. The Act is an essential element from which comes, the interpretation and then the detailing of the legal requirement. And of course the disputes in such interpretations take the form of case laws. However why students find it difficult to read the Bare Acts? The primary reason is the use of legal language and legal terms/words having definite meanings. The language is used to ensure that the law is unambiguous to read and apply. So first I would like to give you some idea on Structure of the ACT, basic legal terms and its meanings.
A. Structure of an ACT: The Basic Structure of the Act is as follows. This will give you an idea on how the Acts are designed and are presented for Systematic Application.
§ PREAMBLE: This is the first section which denotes the Objective of the Act and also states the scope of the Act geographically.
§ ABBREVIATIONS: Abbreviations are used in many Acts and the same are defined in the beginning of the ACT. (For eg. Cl. Is ued for Clause)
§ CHAPTERS: Chapters are the Main Divisions of the Act and are designed based on the specific Part of the Act. For e.g. Winding Up Procedure in Companies Act
§ SECTIONS: Sections are the actual provisions by Law and are the primary segment of the Chapters. Under Sections, there are Sub-sections to divide the content. And then there is a Clause in section which can be further divided into Sub-Clauses. Hence for example if we take Sec.81 of the Companies Act, it is divided into Seven Subsections. Again take Subsection 3 which is divided into two clauses and in this Clause ‘b’ is divided into two Sub-clauses. We denote this is Sec.81 (3) (b)(i).
§ PROVISO: Any exceptions in the Section, is denoted in the Proviso which start with “Provided that”
§ EXPLANATION: Explanation is inserted in the Section to clarify any specific aspect. For e.g. Refer Sec.91 of Companies Act.
§ SCHEDULES: To the end of the Act, Schedules are added to prescribe specific formats and rules which stem from the Section. For eg. The Rates of Depreciation are given in Schedule XIV of Companies Act.
§ APPENDIX: This is usually the last section of the Act denoting transitional provisions.
B. SOME WORDS and LEGAL TERMS USED IN ACT: I am giving here few words for your understanding:
§ NOTWITHSTANDING: It means “despite of” or “without regard to other things”. This is a widely used word, to save the applicability of a Section. When a section contains the word notwithstanding it means that the Section will prevail over any other aspects in the same Act. For eg. Sec.9 of the Companies Act uses the word “Notwithstanding” to emphasize that Provisions of the Act will apply despite of anything contained in Memorandum or Articles, in Contrary to the Act. Thus the power of that particular section is enhanced.
§ SUPRA: It means that the content is already referred in previous portions of the Act.
§ INFRA: As an opposite of Supra, it denotes that the citation is mentioned in later parts of the Act.
§ Ibid: It denotes in the same place or in the same book. So any of the references may be followed by the term IBID meaning that it is in the same book.
§ Save as Otherwise: This makes the Section subject to other provisions of the Act i.e. opposite of notwithstanding mentioned above. So this provides an exceptional element to the Section.
§ Without Prejudice to: This term is used to save the power of earlier section and denotes “without any loss of rights”. For e.g. In Sec.20 of the Companies Act, the general power of the Central Government is protected by use of these words in second clause.
§ TAKE COGNIZANCE OF: It means to take note of. In legal language it is used to give the power to Court or appellate body to assume jurisdiction in some cases.
If you haven’t read Bare Acts before, it will take a few days to get used to the language. The idea to get accustomed to Bare Acts is
1. Read the Index completely
2. Read the Chapter Headings and then the Section completely once without thinking of the meaning.
3. Now read the section by splitting into parts and try to understand the meaning.
4. By three or four readings you can definitely arrive at a basic interpretation of the section.
5. Now read the study material or the reference book.
6. You can observe that your understanding is much better than just reading the material.
I will continue with the next part after a few days. In the meanwhile you can try this approach and give the feedback. For any queries mail me to firstname.lastname@example.org.