For a UPSC CSE aspirant, the optional subject is also an important subject. In the UPSC mains exam, optional marks have two papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2. Each paper is of 250 marks which makes a total of 500 marks. The UPSC optional subject list contains 48 subjects in total, one of which is Law.





A. Constitutional and administrative Law 

  • Constitution and Constitutionalism with its distinctive features.
  • Relationship between Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Directive Principles.
  • Fundamental Rights— Legal Aid, Public interest litigation, Legal services authority.
  • Constitutional Position of the President and relation with the Council of Ministers.
  • Governor and his powers.
  • Supreme Court and the High Courts:
    • Appointments and transfer.
    • Powers, jurisdiction, and functions.
  • Centre, States, and local bodies:
    • Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States.
    • The administrative relationship among Union, State, and Local Bodies.
    • Local Bodies.
    • Eminent domain- State property- Common property- Community property.
  • Legislative powers, privileges, and immunities.
  • Services under the Union and the States:
    • Recruitment and conditions of services
    • Administrative tribunals
    • Constitutional safeguards
    • Union Public Service Commission and state public Service Commissions— Functions and powers.
    • Election Commission— Functions and powers.
  • Emergency provisions.
  • Amendment of the Constitution.
  • Principle 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: Lokpal, Lokayukta, etc.

B. International Law

  • Nature and Definition of International Law.
  • Relationship between International Law and Municipal Law.
  • State Recognition and State Succession.
  • Law of the sea: Inland Waters, Contiguous Zone, Territorial Sea, Continental Shelf, High Seas, and Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Individuals: Nationality, statelessness, Human Rights, and procedures available for their enforcement.
  • The territorial jurisdiction of States, Extradition and Asylum.
  • Treaties: Formation, application, termination, and reservation.
  • United Nations: Its principal organs, functions and powers, and reform.
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes—different modes
  • Lawful recourse to force: aggression, self-defense, intervention.
  • Fundamental principles of international humanitarian law—International conventions and contemporary developments.
  • The legality of the use of nuclear weapons; ban on the testing of nuclear weapons; Nuclear nonproliferation treaty, CTST.
  • 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.


A. Law of Crimes 

  • General principles of Criminal liability: men’s rea and actus reus, men’s rea in statutory offences
  • Kinds of punishment and emerging trends as to abolition of capital punishment
  • Preparations and criminal attempt
  • Abetment
  • General exceptions
  • Criminal conspiracy
  • Offences against the State
  • Offences against the human body
  • Offences against public tranquillity
  • Offences against women
  • Offences against the property
  • Defamation
  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and subsequent legislative developments
  • Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
  • Plea bargaining

B. Law of Torts

  • Definition and nature
  • Vicarious liability including State Liability
  • Liability based upon fault and strict liability, Absolute liability
  • General defenses
  • Joint tort fessors
  • Remedies
  • Defamation
  • Negligence
  • Nuisance
  • False imprisonment
  • Conspiracy
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Consumer Protection Act, 1986

C. Law of Contracts and Mercantile Law

  • Nature and formation of contract/ E-contract
  • Factors vitiating free consent
  • Void, voidable, illegal, and unenforceable agreements
  • Quasi-contracts
  • Performance and discharge of contracts
  • Consequences of breach of contract
  • Contract of indemnity, guarantee, and insurance
  • Contract of the agency
  • Sale of goods and hire purchase
  • Formation and dissolution of the partnership
  • Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996
  • Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881
  • Standard form contracts

D. Contemporary Legal Developments

  • Public Interest Litigation
  • Information Technology Law including Cyber Laws—Concept, purpose/prospects
  • Intellectual property rights—Concept, types/prospects
  • Competition Law—Concept, purpose/prospects
  • Major statutes concerning environmental law
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution—Concept, types/ prospects
  • Right to Information Act
  • Trial by media

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