The ‘Protagoras Paradox of the Court’ Is A Non-Starter

protagoras2This little story — also called ‘Paradox of the Court’ — keeps coming up in different versions all the time and even lawyers find it baffling, which I find quite strange. After having been asked the solution over and over again, when the same problem was sent over to me by a student once again today, I decided to write my response and publish it. I am not saying that this is the ‘right answer’ or the ‘perfect solution’, but this is mine, and the so-called problem or ‘paradox’ has always sounded to me just too simple to be called a ‘logical paradox’. The problem I received today through Facebook Message is this:

This is part of ancient Greek history. The lawyer teacher was Protagoras (c.485-415 BCE) and the student was Euthalos. This is known as Protagoras’s Paradox. This case was not solved. The most interesting part – this is still debated (even today) in law schools as a logic problem!

Many years ago, a Law teacher came across a student who was willing to learn but was unable to pay the fees. The student struck a deal saying, “I will pay your fee the day I win my first case in the court”. 

Teacher agreed and proceeded with the law course. When the course was finished and the teacher started pestering the student to pay up the fee, the student reminded him of the deal and pushed days. Fed up with this, the teacher decided to sue the student in the court of law and both of them decided to argue for themselves. 

The teacher put forward his argument saying: “If I win this case, as per the court of law, the student has to pay me as the case is about his non-payment of dues. And if I lose the case, student will still pay me because he would have won his first case. So either way I will have to get the money”. 

Equally brilliant, the student argued back saying: “If I win the case, as per the court of law, I don’t have to pay anything to the teacher as the case is about my non-payment of dues. And if I lose the case, I don’t have to pay him because I haven’t won my first case yet. So either way, I am not going   pay the teacher anything”. 

This is one of the greatest paradoxes ever recorded. 

Who is right and who is the winner?

So, the teacher sued. For what? Where is the cause of action? Where is the breach of contract?

The case would not proceed to the argument stage because it would be dismissed without notice to the Defendant at the stage of admission itself because the Plaintiff has no cause of action.

The cause of action to enforce a contract arises only when there is breach of contract, which, in this case, can only happen if the Defendant has won his first case and has still not paid the teacher.

In this case the Defendant has not won his first case. Therefore, the condition precedent has not been fulfilled. The Defendant is not in breach of the agreement, and, thus, cannot be directed by the court to ‘perform’ the contract because the stage of performing the contract has not arrived, for the Defendant has not “won his first case” yet as required by the contract. So, the suit for specific performance is clearly premature. The case would, therefore, be shot down by the court for want of cause of action.

It’s not a paradox at all. It can’t even be a debatable issue in any court in the real world. It’s a non-starter so far as I see.


Porn Ban: Supreme Court Observation? Not Really.

Porn ban“The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner,” telecom minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad is reported to have said.

“Obedience to the Supreme Court observation”? And what were those “observations” exactly?

“The issue is definitely serious and some steps need to be taken. The Centre is expected to take a stand…let us see what stand the Centre will take,” observed the Supreme Court.

The “issue” the Supreme Court referred to was child pornography; and not pornography per se. And the “stand” referred to the stand before the Supreme Court on the next date of hearing and not the stand of going around banning the pornographic websites left, right and center.

Regarding internet pornography in general, the same learned judge of the same Supreme Court observed the same day during the same proceedings thus: “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21.” What happened to that “observation” of the apex court?

How is the government reading what was not said into what was expressly observed when the two are the exact opposite of each other? If a ban on pornography violated Article 21, as clearly observed by the Supreme Court in denying the interim order prayed for, how can Center take a “stand” by doing exactly what the Supreme Court said could not be done without violating Article 21? So, what was Center’s “stand”? To go ahead and violate the mandate of Article 21?

So, who are you kidding, Mr. Prasad? Right from the start of this ban, the government has been singing this song of apex court “observation” against pornography on the Internet when there was no observation to that effect.

New Reports referred:

Child pornography stays banned but govt unblocks other sites. :Hindustan Times (August 5, 2015)

Can’t stop an adult from watching porn in his room, says SC. :The Hindu (July 9, 2015)

The Website and the Official Facebook Page

Website 1I am happy to announce the humble launch of ‘‘ and my official Facebook Page to share some of my work and my concerns. Much of the content published onhemrajsingh.comwas originally written for and published in LAWYERS UPDATE at different times. Through the website I am putting some of my published work at one place for better accessibility.

With the launch of the website, the nature of this blog would alter a little because so far I have been using this blog to republish some of my previously published work, which the above-mentioned website would do now.

FB PageTherefore, from this point onward this Blog, which has been my primary Blog for long, would turn more blog-like, by which I mean it would now be a little more informal and just a bit more personal, like a blog ideally should be.

So far as the official Facebook Page is concerned, it is basically to voice my concerns publicly on Facebook because, after all, personal Facebook profiles are meant to connect with people one knows personally, and are not supposed to be used for public communication.

My official Facebook Page is by no means a ‘Fan Page’. I am not a celebrity and I don’t really have ‘fans’ in any real sense of the term. So, the Page is simply a place where one can connect with me without having to add me as a ‘Friend’ on Facebook, and have a look at whatever I think, write and consider worth paying attention to.

Website 2The website in question was created over a period of four months beginning on March 1, 2015, when the basic idea, look and feel of the website was finalized. The design work was complete around the mid of May 2015 and the content upload was started thereafter.

The website went live on July 1, 2015 with a total of 205 articles. However, there were minor changes and adjustments to be made after the website went live, which were carried out over the course of the next month (July 2015). And today on August 1, 2015, we present to you both ‘‘ and ‘‘. I extend my gratitude to all who lent a helping hand. Thank you. 🙂