The law paper consists of two papers, paper 1 and paper 2. The subject carries a total of 500 marks, with each paper allotted for 250 marks.
UPSC Mains Law Syllabus Paper – I
Constitutional and Administrative Law
- Constitution and Constitutionalism: The distinctive features of the Constitution.
- Fundamental rights – Public interest litigation; Legal Aid; Legal services authority.
- Relationship between fundamental rights, directive principles and fundamental duties.
- Constitutional position of the President and relation with the Council of Ministers.
- Governor and his powers.
- Supreme Court and High Courts: (a) Appointments and transfer. (b) Powers, functions and jurisdiction.
- Centre, States and local bodies: (a) Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States. (b) Local bodies. (c) Administrative relationship among Union, State and Local Bodies. (d) Eminent domain – State property – common property – community property.
- Legislative powers, privileges and immunities.
- Services under the Union and the States: (a) Recruitment and conditions of services; Constitutional safeguards; Administrative tribunals. (b) Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission’s – Power and functions (c) Election Commission – Power and functions.
- Emergency provisions.
- Amendment of the Constitution.
- Principles of natural justice – Emerging trends and judicial approach.
- Delegated legislation and its constitutionality.
- Separation of powers and constitutional governance.
- Judicial review of administrative action.
- Ombudsman: Lokayukta, Lokpal etc.
- Nature and definition of international law.
- Relationship between international law and municipal law.
- State recognition and state succession.
- Law of the sea: Inland waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, high seas.
- Individuals: Nationality, statelessness; Human rights and procedures available for their enforcement.
- Territorial jurisdiction of States, extradition and asylum.
- Treaties: Formation, application, termination and reservation.
- United Nations: Its principal organs, powers, functions and reform.
- Peaceful settlement of disputes – different modes.
- Lawful recourse to force: aggression, self-defence, intervention.
- Fundamental principles of international humanitarian law – International conventions and contemporary developments.
- Legality of the use of nuclear weapons; ban on testing of nuclear weapons; Nuclear – non proliferation treaty, CTBT.
- International terrorism, state sponsored terrorism, hijacking, international criminal court.
- New international economic order and monetary law: WTO, TRIPS, GATT, IMF, World Bank.
- Protection and improvement of the human environment: International efforts.
Candidates planning to take UPSC Exam 2020 may refer to the linked article.
UPSC Mains Law Syllabus Paper – II
Law of Crimes
- General principles of criminal liability: Mens rea and actus reus, mens rea in statutory offences.
- Kinds of punishment and emerging trends as to abolition of capital punishment.
- Preparation and criminal attempt.
- General exceptions.
- Joint and constructive liability.
- Criminal conspiracy.
- Offences against the State.
- Offences against public tranquility.
- Offences against human body.
- Offences against property.
- Offences against women.
- Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and subsequent legislative developments. 16. Plea bargaining.
Law of Torts
- Nature and definition.
- Liability based upon fault and strict liability; Absolute liability.
- Vicarious liability including State liability.
- General defences.
- Joint tort feasors.
- False imprisonment.
- Malicious prosecution.
- Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Law of Contracts and Mercantile Law
- Nature and formation of contract/Econtract.
- Factors vitiating free consent.
- Void, voidable, illegal and unenforceable agreements.
- Performance and discharge of contracts.
- Quasi- Contracts.
- Consequences of breach of contract.
- Contract of indemnity, guarantee and insurance.
- Contract of agency.
- Sale of goods and hire purchase.
- Formation and dissolution of partnership.
- Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
- Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
- Standard form contracts.
Contemporary Legal Developments
- Public Interest Litigation.
- Intellectual property rights – Concept, types/prospects.
- Information Technology Law including Cyber Laws – Concept, purpose/prospects.
- Competition Law- Concept, purpose/ prospects.
- Alternate Dispute Resolution – Concept, types/prospects.
- Major statutes concerning environmental law.
- Right to Information Act.
- Trial by media.
Also, Check Other Optional Subject’s Syllabus
Preparation Tips for Law in UPSC CSE Mains
Law is not the most preferred option by most aspirants as the subject requires exceptionally good background knowledge. In other words, candidates with a graduation in law are the most likely ones to opt for the subject. Let’s first go about analysing law as a subject in UPSC.
The syllabus is too lengthy and requires lot of time and patience to even complete it. Since candidates feel the need to memorise many parts of the syllabus, they find it to be a non-scoring subject of sorts. Material, both offline and online may be available for the subject, but it still requires some amount of coaching and guidance for better scores.
If you conducted a steady research for the difficulty level of the subject, you’ll find that there are not too many coaching centres exclusively teaching this subject as it’s quite unpopular compared to other subjects. Couple of disadvantages that affect law background candidates from attempting this paper are the non compliance of the UPSC syllabus with the law subject pattern and the other one being the expected presentation of answers.
Taking the first part, one can see a striking difference between the syllabus in their law graduation and that of the law syllabus in UPSC. So the approach candidates must take should also be different. Secondly, law candidates are usually accustomed to writing answers in a certain way according to graduation norms, but in UPSC, things are slightly different and answers are expected to be more descriptive than usual.
There are many things that are very favourable for the subject too. The biggest fact that the subject does not change dynamically with the times is the added advantage. Laws that are laid down in our constitution are not going to change every day and are very much static and going to stay at place for many more years to come.
So you can be sure that within the scope of the syllabus, questions would be asked and nothing beyond the expected portion is going to pop up. If you browse through previous year question papers and their key answers, you’ll find that they are very easily available. So students can have a model set of answers and guide themselves on answering similar kind of questions.
The absence of procedural laws is another major hit factor among candidates. This is especially true for candidates who do not have a law background but are keen on law as a general subject of study. Some of the other useful tips for law paper are explained in this section.
The answers are expected to be lengthy and descriptive, so more stress should be given to illustrations and presentation of answers in the paper. Writing a big answer endlessly does not necessarily fetch very high marks. Breaking down your answer into suitable parts and writing those down in points as and where required will definitely make them more appealing. Support your answers with both points and illustrations, as in good examples.
Do not forget to memorise provisions as they play a very major and vital role in the law paper. In law papers, make it a point to highlight important sections of your answers by underlining them. Secondly, you should use a lot of supportive tools apart from simple illustrations.
Flow charts are a good idea to present the answer in a visually explained manner. That said, you could also bring in the idea of using relevant diagrams that suit an answer.
Paper 1 expects better clarity in answers and paper 2 commonly is a test of your knowledge and how you’re able to deal with them by applying the relevant laws at the right places. Paper 2 is hence more scoring than paper 1, provided you’re sure of practically applying the laws to scenarios explained in the exam. Law papers, being too lengthy in general give you very less time to write the complete paper.
Non completion of the paper is not a very good sign though. What is therefore required is the timely completion of the answers. This needs pre planning and thorough practise too. If you’re asked on a certain topic, candidates should be in a position to decide how much space to allocate for introduction/definition, core of the answer which is the most important part and finally conclusion of the answer. Adjusting the answers as per the requirements of the exam is the best way to aspire for higher scores.
Law is definitely a very tricky subject to attempt. One of the areas where you’ll realise this is, short and simple questions asked at elaborate sections of the paper. What generally happens is, candidates chose to answer to-the-point in a clear, crisp manner which may not suffice if they are labelled for high marks.
Students have to think and come up with the relevant laws in addition to the concerned question and relate them to the current answer. So this kind of interlinking between answers comes not just by reading and more reading. It certainly comes with a lot of practice and analysis. Also, the familiarity with such questions only cones when we refer to previous year papers plus several attempts of mock series questions.
Develop good logical thinking while trying to answer the paper as quoting the wrong section or article for a law you explain in the paper will only lead to blunders. Understand the idea behind why a particular question is asked in a certain way. Also, the subject overlaps with the general studies paper and hence you can call it dual preparation.