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UPSC Law Syllabus

UPSC Law Syllabus 2024: UPSC Law Optional Syllabus: UPSC mains has Law as one of the Optional Subjects with 2 papers (Optional Paper I and Paper II). Its popularity stems from the syllabus of UPSC which has a very large overlap between General Studies and Law.

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The UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam offers Law as an optional subject, consisting of two papers: Optional Paper I and Paper II. The IAS Exam encompasses three stages: Preliminary, Mains, and Interview, with the Mains stage comprising nine papers, including two papers on the optional subject.

This article specifically focuses on the syllabus for UPSC Law as an optional subject.

UPSC Law Optional Syllabus – PAPER I

Constitutional and Administrative Law : 

  1. Constitution and Constitutionalism: The distinctive features of the Constitution.
  2. Fundamental Rights—Public interest litigation; Legal Aid; Legal services authority.
  3. Relationship between Fundamental rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental duties.
  4. Constitutional Position of the President and Relation with the Council of Ministers.
  5. Governor and his powers. 
  6. Supreme Court and the High Courts: 

    (a) Appointments and transfers. 

    (b) Powers, functions and jurisdiction. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Legislative powers, privileges and immunities. 
  2. 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 Commissions—Power and functions.

    (c) Election Commission—Power and functions. 

  1. Emergency provisions. 
  2. Amendment of the Constitution. 
  3. Principle of Natural Justice—Emerging trends and judicial approach. 
  4. Delegated legislation and its constitutionality.  
  5. Separation of powers and constitutional governance. 
  6. Judicial review of administrative action. 
  7. Ombudsman: Lokayukta, Lokpal etc. 

International Law : 

  1. Nature and Definition of International Law. 
  2. Relationship between International Law and Municipal Law. 
  3. State Recognition and State Succession. 
  4. Law of the sea: Inland Waters,Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Continental Shelf, Exclusive  Economic Zone and High Seas. 
  5. Individuals: Nationality, statelessness; Human Rights and procedures available for their  enforcement. 
  6. Territorial jurisdiction of States, Extradition and Asylum. 
  7. Treaties : Formation, application, termination and reservation. 
  8. United Nations : Its principal organs, powers and functions and reform.
  9. Peaceful settlement of disputes—different modes.
  10. Lawful recourse to force : aggressions, self-defence, intervention. 
  11. Fundamental principles of international humanitarian law—International conventions and  contemporary developments. 
  12. Legality of the use of nuclear weapons; ban on testing of nuclear weapons; Nuclear non proliferation treaty, CTST. 
  13. International Terrorism, State sponsored terrorism, Hijacking, International Criminal Court.
  14. New International Economic Order and Monetary Law : WTO, TRIPS, GATT, IMF, World Bank.
  15. Protection and Improvement of the Human Environment : International Efforts.

UPSC Law Optional Syllabus – PAPER II

Law of Crimes :— 

  1. General principles of Criminal liability : mens rea and actus reus, mens rea in statutory offences.
  2. Kinds of punishment and emerging trends as to abolition of capital punishment.
  3. Preparations and criminal attempt. 
  4. General exceptions. 
  5. Joint and constructive liability. 
  6. Abetment. 
  7. Criminal conspiracy. 
  8. Offences against the State. 
  9. Offences against public tranquility. 
  10. Offences against human body. 
  11. Offences against property. 
  12. Offences against women. 
  13. Defamation. 
  14. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 
  15. Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and subsequent legislative developments. 
  16. Plea bargaining. 

Law of Torts 

  1. Nature and definition. 
  2. Liability based upon fault and strict liability; Absolute liability. 
  3. Vicarious liability including State Liability. 
  4. General defences. 
  5. Joint tort fessors. 
  6. Remedies. 
  7. Negligence. 
  8. Defamation. 
  9. Nuisance.
  10. Conspiracy. 
  11. False imprisonment. 
  12. Malicious prosecution. 
  13. Consumer Protection Act, 1986. 

Law of Contracts and Mercantile Law 

  1. Nature and formation of contract/E-contract. 
  2. Factors vitiating free consent. 
  3. Void, voidable, illegal and unenforceable agreements. 
  4. Performance and discharge of contracts. 
  5. Quasi-contracts. 
  6. Consequences of breach of contract. 
  7. Contract of indemnity, guarantee and insurance. 
  8. Contract of agency. 
  9. Sale of goods and hire purchase. 
  10. Formation and dissolution of partnership. 
  11. Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. 
  12. Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. 
  13. Standard form contracts. 

Contemporary Legal Developments 

  1. Public Interest Litigation. 
  2. Intellectual property rights—Concept, types/prospects. 
  3. Information Technology Law including Cyber Laws—Concept, purpose/prospects.
  4. Competition Law—Concept, purpose/prospects. 
  5. Alternate Dispute Resolution—Concept, types/prospects. 
  6. Major statutes concerning environmental law. 
  7. Right to Information Act. 
  8. Trial by media. 

Literature of the following languages : 

NOTE (i).—A candidate may be required to answer some or all the Questions in the language concerned.

NOTE (ii).—In regard to the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to Constitution, the scripts will be the same as indicated in Section II (B) of Appendix I relating to the Main Examination.

NOTE (iii).—Candidates should note that the questions not required to be answered in a specific language will have to be answered in the language medium indicated by them for answering papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subjects.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to UPSC Law Optional Syllabus 2024.

Q: What is the syllabus for UPSC Law optional subject?

A: The syllabus for UPSC Law optional subject includes various topics such as constitutional and administrative law, Indian penal code, law of cont...Read full

Q: How many papers are there for UPSC Law optional subject?

A: There are two papers for the UPSC Law optional subject: Optional Paper I and Paper II.

Q: Is studying law in graduation necessary to choose law as an optional subject?

A: No, it is not mandatory to have studied law in graduation to choose law as an optional subject for UPSC. However, having a background in law may...Read full

Q: How should I prepare for the UPSC Law optional subject?

A: To prepare for the UPSC Law optional subject, it is advisable to refer to standard law books, study material, and previous year question papers....Read full

Q: Is it necessary to cover the entire syllabus for the UPSC Law optional subject?

A: It is recommended to have a comprehensive understanding of the entire syllabus for the UPSC Law optional subject. However, focusing on important...Read full