#50 What is the Booklist and Syllabus for Law Optional in UPSC CSE?

What is law? How should we approach the subject?

The subject of law is a necessary element of legal relations in all branches of the law, although its status is specific in each such branch.In UPSC CSE law is one of the subjects offered by the board. It has now become one of the most sought after subjects to choose for the aspirants.

So for all those who are going through the dilemma of whether or not to choose the subject. The answer is yes you should. If you have your background in law then definitely you should go for this subject as this will save your time to understand the basics and you will easily be able to grasp and finish it early.

Now ,coming to those who have little knowledge of the subject or did not pursue the subject after graduation ,for those going through the syllabus is the key . Read the syllabus and try to understand it’s demand .go through previous year question papers and supplement it with Topper’s answer sheet .This will give you an idea of how you should approach the subject and formulate your answer accordingly. If you are targeting for two year preparation then you should be able to revise your optional at least 4 to 5 times but if you are targeting for 1 year preparation then then selective reading and note making will help you a lot.now coming to the syllabus of the subject.the syllabus is very comprehensive and so is the booklist.so to understand the subject you must be able to understand it’s syllabus.

What is the syllabus? What does it cover?

Paper I

A.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:

Appointments and transfers.

Powers, functions and jurisdiction.

7.Centre, States and local bodies:

Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States.

Local Bodies.

Administrative relationship among Union, State and Local Bodies.

Eminent domain-State property-common property-community property.

8.Legislative powers, privileges and immunities.

9.Services under the Union and the States:

Recruitment and conditions of services;Constitutional safeguards; Administrative tribunals.

Union Public Service Commission and StatePublic Service Commissions—Power and functions.

Election Commission—Power and functions.

10.Emergency provisions.

11.Amendment of the Constitution.

12.Principle of Natural Justice:

Emerging trends and judicial approach.

13.Delegated legislation and its constitutionality.

14.Separation of powers and constitutional governance.

15.Judicial review of administrative action.

16.Ombudsman: Lokayukta, Lokpal etc.

1.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 nonproliferation 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.


1.Law of Crimes

  1. General principles of Criminal liability: men’s rea and actus reus, men’s 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 the 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.


1.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 tortfeasors.
  6. Remedies.
  7. Negligence.
  8. Defamation.
  9. Nuisance.
  10. Conspiracy.
  11. False imprisonment.
  12. Malicious prosecution.
  13. Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


1.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.

1.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.

What is the booklist?What books should we read?

Paper 1 

  1. International Law- S. K Kapoor Our Constitution – Subhash C. Kashyap
  2. The Constitution of India (Bare Act) – PM Bakshi An Introduction to Public International Law – S. K. Verma
  3. Introduction to the Constitution of India – D.D Basu Constitution of India- VN Shukla
  4. International Law – Malcolm N Shaw Administrative Law – I.P. Massey


  1. Indian Penal Code- KD Gaur Mercantile Law – R.K. Bangia
  2. Jurisprudence – P.K. Tripathi and Dias Criminal Law – P. S. Atchuthen Pillai.
  3. Indian Penal Code-Ratanlal and Dhirajlal Principles of Mercantile Law- Avtar Singh
  4. Law of Tort – Autochthon Pillai Indian Contract Act Specific Relief Act- Pollock & Mulla 

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