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Law Optional UPSC 2019 Paper Analysis (Short)

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

This blog consist of short analysis of type and pattern of question asked in 2019 UPSC law optional paper.

On the basis of feedback received from my student In paper - I, 170 + will be ideal score and in paper - II, 150 + will be ideal score.

Paper- I

This year paper – I was comparatively easy, and student will score more than 170 numbers. At least my students will. The reason for the observation is following:

1. Most of the question were direct in nature.

Generally question of direct nature is 2-3 in UPSC law optional paper but this year at least 100 marks questions were direct in nature. The advantage is that they are easily answerable, and you can get fetch good marks in that. To cite a few questions below.

Q. 1.(a). Discuss the doctrine of ‘Pith and substance’ relating to the distribution of legislative powers between the Centre and the states with the help of landmark judicial decisions.

Q1.(d). “The issue of Parliamentary-privileges has been a bone of contention and conflict between the Parliament and the Judiciary.” Analyse this statement in the backdrop of decided cases.

2.(c). Examine the nature of the powers of the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and distinguish it from the powers of the Supreme Court under Article 32.

3(c). “India that is ‘Bharat’, shall be a Union of States.” Explain. Do you think that the Indian Constitution is a Federal Constitution ? Discuss with the help of decided cases.

4(b). Discuss the Ordinance making power of the President. Can the validity of an Ordinance be challenged in the Court of Law ? Cite relevant case-law.

5(c) What is the difference between International Humanitarian Law and / International Human Rights Law ?

5(d) What do you mean by State-Recognition ? What are the legal effects of recognition ? Differentiate between de-facto and de-jure recognition.

6(a). What are the various theories prevalent for deciding the relationship between International Law and Domestic Law ? How do the National Courts in India apply the International Law ?

6(b). Briefly explain the following : (i) Doctrine of Innocent Passage

7(b). Examine the extent and limits to which a treaty can confer rights and impose obligations on the third State which is not party to the treaty.

Above Questions were very simple and a bare study of previous year paper would have helped in solving all the above papers.

2. Fundamental right Questions were missing

Each year there has been at least 50-60 marks question from fundamental right, and in class I spent a fair amount of time on each fundamental right and case laws thereof. This year however thin changed and the questions of this topic was only one that too 10 marker. Question no-1(a) related to right to privacy judgement (see question above).

Pattern totally changed so you cant trust or predict UPSC, you should focus on every topic equally. Fundamental right topic have been always an important topic in previous years but this year it was not at all.

3. Philosophical and jurisprudential questions type question increased further.

UPSC law optional paper in this aspect varies a lot with judicial service mains paper. UPSC have lot of question which require answering from a general or your own point of view. They ask what do you think? Or Support your View. Rather than asking courts view. The number of such question have increased this year specifically in case on international law section.

This year this trend was maintained in paper-I, a lot of question of this nature was asked, anwering this would require learning that topic in depth and reading regular article sent by me in telegram group.

The article of De Facto Law Website had puttaswamy case in detail. Read here

4. Paper was more evenly distributed.

Generally in paper – I, up to last year, there were some sections of the syllabus, which was more important than other. like that of ‘Fundamental Right’’ or ‘’Nature of International law’’ this year however there was one question each from all the topic of the syllabus.

Very seldomly more than one question was there in the paper from a single topic. That again makes exam more unpredictable, as you can not afford to not study any particular topic or priorities topics by focusing on important sections.

Having said that, it will be too soon to the judge the pattern for one year. Still some topic should be given more importance.


In paper-II, General review from my students was that it was tricky. I will agree to that. Questions were framed in a different way, but it was in core, just a traditional question with flowery language.

If you had studies that topic properly those twisted framing of questions would not have stopped you from scoring good. 150 plus would be a great mark in paper-II of law optional. Lets analyse in detail the question asked.

1. Contemporary legal Development (CLD)

CLD section was the king. At least 8 question from topic within CLD was asked. In section B of paper optional question 6,7 and 8 all had CLS question. So if you had skipped CLD section, Which student tends too. You could not have given answer properly at all. Lets see those questions.

6(b). “The National Green Tribunal, which was established for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources, has played a pivotal role in recent past in this regard.” Examine the statement with reference to pronouncements given by NGT.

(this question relates to environmental laws topic of CLD)

6(c). Ascertainment of jurisdiction is a big challenge Under the cyber law. Elaborate the relevant legal provisions of the IT act along with various tests applied by Indian courts.

(question from IT act again a topic in CLD)

7(b). “Alternative dispute resolution mechanism as provided under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has played a pivotal role in dispensation of justice to the needy persons.” Explain with the help of legal provision and case law.

(ADR topic in CLD)

8(a). “In present time, there is a conflict between the right to access to knowledge and copyright law.’’ Explain the statement in light of doctrine of fair dealing under the copyright law.

8(b) “Approximate justice with finality by the way of arbitration is against the basic principle of administration of justice in the courts.” Examine the statement in the light of latest developments of alternative dispute resolution system in India.

8(c). “The basic purpose of competition policy and the law is to preserve and promote competition as a means of ensuring efficient allocation of resources in an economy.” Elucidate the statement in the light of new economic scenario in India.

(all of question no 08 was from CLD topic.)

5(c) “Public interest litigation is not the pill 0f all ills, it is the boon of the courts. However it is also the duty of the court to prevent its misuse.” Elucidate.

2. Less question from Criminal and contract law and more from Tort

Usually law of tort, law of crime and contract have maximum or at least equal number of question. This year that was not the case. More question was from tort and that too very abstract question. It was difficult for student to pin point the topic tort question was related with. For example.

3(c). “Ascertainment of causation is a problem, when the events causing damage to plaintiff are not simultaneous but successive.” Elaborate it with help of decided cases under the law of tort

4(b). Mere physical boundaries are not the essential requirement to constitute the tort of ‘false imprisonment’’ but psychological boundaries too are enough in this regard. Examine

4(c)Imputation of chastity against a women by a spoken words is a wrong actionable without proof of special damage.” Examine under the law of tort.

Over all question was good and a detail analysis of each question and their model answer will will updated soon.

Mean while you can join our Telegram channel to receive updates

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