Law optional – Constitutional and Administrative Law

This article is written by Avi Prasad, Rank 13, UPSC CSE 2013.

General Sources

One must have a source which provides topic-wise break up of Mains Examination questions asked in past years. I relied on the one published on UPSC portal which was just a compilation of previous years’ questions under different topic heads. Yet, it was a very important tool in my preparation as it gave insight into the repetitive nature of questions asked, the variations and the important areas of syllabus. It also helped me identify parts of the syllabus that have rarely been tested by UPSC. While past is no definite indicator for the future, I took the decision to focus only on the topics which have been frequently asked by UPSC. Thus, I was able to narrow down the syllabus considerably. This strategy has held me in good stead in both my successful attempts with Law.

In this entry, I will list out the books I relied upon and how they can be used upon along with additional sources. An important source is excellent case summary of important cases published by Delhi University for its LLB course. This material is available for download at DU’s website. I also read the ubiquitously called ‘Dukki’ (for those unfamiliar with the term; it is the ‘guide-book’ which is relied upon by most students of Delhi University for passing the examination held by the University). The guide-books are essentially quality notes prepared with references from multiple books. While they are very useful for some part of the syllabus, their drawback is that they don’t cover the entire syllabus. However, these can be read as a basic preparatory text. There are two major publishers/authors of Dukki – Ashok Jain and Singhal. One has to compare Dukkis for each subject to ascertain which one is better for a particular subject.

Constitutional and Administrative Law: This forms the Section-A of Paper I and has four questions, of which Question No. 1 is mandatory to attempt.

Preparing for Constitutional Law

It is advisable that non-law background students opting for Law optional should first go through Indian Polity authored by Laxmikant (mainly used for prelims GS prep) as a background study. They must familiarize themselves with the language of the bare act of  Constitution and the arrangements of different articles in the constitution.

My main source for preparing for this paper was “Indian Constitutional Law” by M. P. Jain, I had Sixth edition of the book and the pages and chapters mentioned in this post are with reference to that edition. However, flipkart shows that the updated 7th edition is out in the market as well. M P Jain’s is a heavy and bulky book running for about two thousand pages. But one need not read the entire book to cover UPSC syllabus as it is mostly contained in 400-500 pages. The above described ‘Dukkis’ were not very helpful for constitutional law. However, these can be read as a basic preparatory text.

  1. Constitution and Constitutionalism: M P Jain has briefly discussed the meaning of these terms at the very start of the book. The question on this topic has been mostly related to nature of constitution and principles enshrined in preamble. Most important for the purpose of exam is the nature of federalism and secularism.
  2. Fundamental rights- The most difficult area of the syllabus, as it is very exhaustive and an evolving area of constitutional law. My strategy was to read seminal cases of constitutional law related to different fundamental rights along with the bare act. I read the cases related to constitutional law from DU case material. Further, many of the fundamental rights have evolved through public interest litigations over the years. PIL is a very important judicial innovation and one needs to understand its pros and cons. I relied on excellent articles by senior advocates and jurists in The Hindu and Indian Express for understanding contemporary issues surrounding PIL. Legal Aid etc. doesn’t require any serious preparation and even basic internet research on its evolution in India is sufficient.
  3. Relationship between fundamental rights, directive principles and fundamental duties: Usually the question is asked related to enforceability of directive principles and fundamental duties. The significance of DP in constitution is another probable question. The entire part is covered in M P Jain pp. 1458-1523.
  4. Constitutional position of the President and relation with the Council of Ministers: Questions related to discretionary powers of president, relationship with council of ministers and Pardon power. Article 72 along with Article 161 (Governor’s pardoning power) has assumed contemporary relevance
  5. Governor and his powers: Almost the same as above. M P Jain discusses these at pp. 354-358, 370-388.
  6. Supreme Court and High Courts:

(a) Appointments and transfer.

(b) Powers, functions and jurisdiction.

Relevant Articles -124 and 217. It is better to read the judicial pronouncements in Judges’ Transfer case and subsequent case laws from DU Case material and internet. Collegium system and its suitability is a topic of contemporary relevance and have been extensively covered in media.

  1. Centre, States and local bodies:

(a) Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States (M P Jain pp. 529-533, 573-624)

(b) Local bodies.

(c) Administrative relationship among Union, State and Local Bodies. (pp. 718-737)

(d) Eminent domain – State property – common property – community property.

Local bodies and eminent domain may be ignored. Most repeated question is on pith and substance. Scheme of distribution of legislative powers is also important.

  1. Legislative powers, privileges and immunities (pp. 90-117, 343-347) discussed in great detail in M P Jain. It is also part of GS syllabus so can be done thoroughly.
  2. Services under the Union and the States:

(a) Recruitment and conditions of services; Constitutional safeguards; Administrative tribunals: a tedious topic to study and not very frequently asked. However, doctrine of pleasure is a probable question from this part.

(b) Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission – Power and functions: may be ignored.

(c) Election Commission – Power and functions: hardly any question has been asked on this.

  1. Emergency provisions. (pp. 738-772) Questions are related only to Article 352 and 356. Judicial review of imposition of State emergency is another area of probable question and DU case material has case laws related to it.
  2. Amendment of the Constitution: important part of the syllabus, ‘basic structure doctrine’ as evolved in Kesvananda Bharti case must be conceptually understood.

Preparing for Administrative Law

12. Principles 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.

 I will mention here that majority of my preparation was confined to constitutional law part and I approached Administrative Law only on completion of the former. The reason being that over the years administrative law questions have been rare and invariably for less marks. Further, this is the only part of the Law syllabus which is general in nature and anyone with some exposure to public administration and governance related issues will be able to at least attempt the question. Further, the choice offered in paper tempts one to skip this part altogether if one is really pressed for time for preparation. Thus, giving less emphasis to this part of the syllabus is a safe bet. However, I did go through some important cases like In Re Delhi Act for delegated legislation from the DU Case material, as delegated legislation is the most frequently asked question from this part. The questions related to natural justice often ask to comment on particular legal maxim so one should read about some oft-quoted ones.

The only book I relied upon for this paper was Administrative Law by I. P. Massey. The famous Dukki may also be read.

I shall be adding references for other parts of the syllabus soon.

37 thoughts on “Law optional – Constitutional and Administrative Law”

  1. Thank You Sir!

    Is there any vast difference between MP Jain and VN Shukla as I found the latter to be more suitable in law school. Please guide!

    1. @pankaj…I have not relied on V N Shukla for my preparation, but have heard that it’s a good book. So follow any book that you are comfortable with and which covers the syllabus.

  2. Hello sir! Can u please upload a topic wise analysis for international law like the way you have done for constitutional law. I am referring to sk kapoor for intl law which pretty much covers everything. Is there any need to go for books like starke etc

    1. @gaurav…they were available till last year under download course material section of DU’s website. Site has been revamped, can’t locate it. Guess you have to get in touch with present or ex students of DU.

      1. Hello Avi sir,
        Congratulating you on the grand success!

        Waiting eagerly for the post on LAW PaperII which makes me keep coming to your blog on everyday basis. 😉 We’ll be grateful if you can spare some time and give us a detailed strategy for the topics therein, with a special emphasis on the Contemporary Legal developments .
        Please , also elaborate on the importance of Law Commision reports AND which reports are absolutely imperative for the exam, if any.

        Owing to the dearth of guidance on LAW optional, your blog is a beacon of hope!

        Thanks so much for the guidance.

  3. Dear Avi,
    Congratulations on your success. The Case law summary as prescribed by DU has been taken off from their website I guess. Would be grateful if you could email those files on ankitsrivastav25 [at the rate] gmail [dot] com.
    Thanks in advance

  4. sir
    can you please write a guide on how to go about which books to consult for mercantile law and the section of the paper regarding latest developments in the legal sphere?
    thank you sir.
    and thank you for these entries. for someone who is self preparing this paper i find it most useful and will be following it like a holy grail 🙂

  5. Avi Sir,

    Another request, actually I have searched on the internet extensively but have not been able to find the DU Case Materials.

    Could you please upload the soft copies of the material (Constitution, Int. Law and any other) you have for the benefit of all candidates.

  6. Dear Avi Sir,

    Thank you for your excellent tips and pointers for all Law aspirants. Eagerly awaiting your writeup on how to tackle Paper 2 as well. Could you please also share 1-2 model answers if possible (from memory) for each part, i.e. Constitutional, International, Criminal Law etc. to help us understand the type of answers the examiner is looking for?

  7. sir first of all congratulation on your grand success.I found your article really impressive sir kindly please send article on IPC tort and law of contract and please mention relavant books.Thank you

  8. Hello Avi Sir,
    would it be possible to post a writeup on paper 2 part B i.e. law of crimes and contracts like the one you posted on other topics. It would be really helpful.
    Thank you in advance.

  9. Avi Sir,
    Please write about Paper II.

    Especially Contemporary Legal Developments, and
    -Prevention of Corruption Act,
    -Protection of Civil rights act,
    -Consumer protection act,
    -Sales of goods and hire purchase,
    -Negotiable instruments act,
    -Arbitration and Conciliation act.

    Much thanks!

  10. Namstey sir, m going to prepare for UPSC having law as optional.I m in last year of LL.B(hons.). So I want to know whether any coaching is necessary for law..?? And how can I know the pattern of writing the questions relating to law…?? Plz sir , give me your valuable guidance.. Plz

  11. Are we required to read the whole I.P Massey for administration law or some selective chapters. Please guide.

  12. Hello, I have tried downloading the case material from DU website but it is password protected. Could you please tell me as to how I can download the same from any other source or if you could share it with me? Thank you!

  13. Hey thanks a lot sir!

    Coaching material is also available, like of Rahul’s IAS, Ambition and Rau’s for law optional.
    Who’s material and coaching is better?
    Which subjects to start first?
    I can’t remember sections word to word!
    And can u provide sample answer!

    1. No need to remember sections. Just know the gist of it. I didn’t like any coaching material. Better to depend on law books.

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