How to read the Law?

Gargi Rai 
on 29 July 2019


Another working Saturday, I thought to myself entering the workshop organized by the firm (clearly shows how naïve I am and how much growing up is still left). But looking at the speaker's names, I knew I had to attend (Advocates, CAs and a Retired Departmental officer). A workshop on “Analytical Skills”. A certain part of that workshop covered the topic “How to read the Law?”

The Litigation partner of our firm stood up to take the session and the first question he asked was “Why do we read?” Answers started coming- to understand, to increase our knowledge, to get the point of view of a person.

Listening till there was no new answer, he said “while these all are very good answers, it still doesn’t answer the question “why do we read.” You know there are different methods of communication, one of them being writing. So eventually we read to communicate” and I wondered to myself that wow, that is amazing. That’s the exact amount of understanding and interpretation you need in law.  

The next question he asked us was- “What is Law?” Again the crowd started murmuring answers-set of rules, policies that we should follow. I was mesmerized by his perspective of looking at things.

Back to the heading of the Article- How to read the law? The one thing about Law is everything is connected to everything. To a law you are referring there are so many allied laws you can also look at, But the question is how? So here’s a checklist to any law you wanna refer:

Look at the index: Gives you a fair idea of what is in the law and where it is?
Preamble:
The next major thing comes is preamble, This tells us the applicability of law to a particular case. So, before going hunting in the dark, know it well.

The points following would be specific to Tax Laws:

  • Check the levy: charging section of a law, as we call it
  • Check how much tax is payable (including all the rate and exemption notifications)
  • Once that is determined, how to pay the tax?
  • That’s how you go about to read a new law.

According to Sir, If one wants to understand a section…read it thrice!

  • First read: Plain reading
  • Second reading: Read to understand the section unbiased
  • Third reading: Read it with the facts of the case
  • To add what I think, Tax or Law for that matter is not something you learn in a day or a year. It needs experience and more than that, more practical exposures. And still, you learn something new with all the days coming.

All in all, it was an amazing experience with the workshop and an amazing perspective on Analytical skills. Because see the law is same for everyone, its how you interpret it within the four walls of law that makes a difference in you as a professional and that’s what differentiates the ordinary form the extraordinary and the better from the best. 


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