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UPSC Mains Answer PYQ 2021: Law Paper 2 (Section- A) | Law Optional Notes for UPSC PDF Download

Q1: Has Attempt' been defined anywhere in the IPC, 1860 ? What are the various tests for determining, whether an act amounts to preparation or attempt to commit an offence ? Explain with the help of relevant case laws. 
Introduction: In the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, attempt to commit an offense is a crucial concept that involves taking substantial steps towards the commission of a crime, even if the crime is not completed. The IPC, 1860, does define 'attempt' and lays down certain tests to determine whether an act amounts to preparation or attempt. In this explanation, we will delve into the definition of 'attempt' in the IPC, 1860, and the tests to differentiate between preparation and attempt, substantiated by relevant case laws.

Definition of 'Attempt' in the IPC, 1860:

  1. Definition:
    • 'Attempt' is not explicitly defined in the IPC, 1860. However, it is implied that an act amounts to an attempt if the accused, with the intent to commit a specific offense, takes a step beyond mere preparation towards the commission of that offense.

Tests for Determining 'Attempt' vs. Preparation:

  1. Proximity Test:

    • This test considers how close the act is to the commission of the actual offense. The closer the act is to the completion of the offense, the more likely it is considered an attempt.
  2. Overt Act Test:

    • It emphasizes whether the accused has taken a direct step towards the commission of the offense. Mere intention or preparation is not enough; there must be an overt act indicative of the accused's intent.
  3. Equity Test:

    • This test considers the equity and justice in considering an act as an attempt. It focuses on whether society would consider the act an attempt to commit the offense based on its nature and circumstances.

Case Law Examples:

  1. R. v. Eagleton (1855):

    • In this case, the accused was found with a loaded gun near a house with intent to commit burglary. The court held that the accused's act of having a loaded gun was an overt act, indicating an attempt to commit burglary.
  2. State of Punjab v. Narain Singh (1978):

    • In this case, the accused was caught near a truck with stolen property. The court held that the accused's act of being near the truck with the stolen property indicated a clear intent and a step towards committing theft, constituting an attempt.


While the IPC, 1860, does not explicitly define 'attempt,' it is generally understood that an attempt involves taking substantial steps towards the commission of an offense with a clear intent to do so. The tests for differentiating between preparation and attempt, namely the proximity test, overt act test, and equity test, are crucial in determining whether an act amounts to an attempt or is mere preparation. Relevant case laws like R. v. Eagleton and State of Punjab v. Narain Singh illustrate the application of these tests in establishing an act as an attempt under the IPC, 1860.

Q2: What are the various kinds of damages' that a plantilf can avail as a remedy under the law of Torts ? Under what circumstances can "prospective damages" be awarded ?
Introduction: In tort law, damages are the monetary compensation awarded to the plaintiff for the harm or loss suffered due to the defendant's wrongful actions. These damages are a crucial aspect of seeking remedies in tort cases. The types of damages that a plaintiff can avail vary depending on the circumstances of the case. This explanation will outline the various kinds of damages available to the plaintiff in tort cases and under what circumstances prospective damages can be awarded.

Kinds of Damages in Tort Law:

  1. Compensatory Damages:

    • General Damages: Awarded for non-monetary losses that are difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or emotional distress.
    • Special Damages: Awarded for specific monetary losses that can be quantified precisely, such as medical expenses, property damage, or loss of earnings.
  2. Punitive or Exemplary Damages:

    • Awarded to punish the defendant for intentional, malicious, or grossly negligent conduct and deter them and others from similar actions in the future.
  3. Nominal Damages:

    • Symbolic damages awarded to acknowledge the infringement of the plaintiff's rights when there is no actual loss or harm suffered.
  4. Aggravated Damages:

    • Additional damages awarded when the defendant's conduct has caused humiliation, mental distress, or injured the plaintiff's feelings.
  5. Restitutionary Damages:

    • Aimed at restoring the plaintiff to the position they were in before the tort occurred, often involving the return of wrongfully taken property or money.

Circumstances for Prospective Damages:

Prospective damages, also known as future damages, are awarded for future losses or expenses that the plaintiff is likely to incur due to the defendant's actions. These damages can be awarded when:

  1. Certain Future Losses:

    • The plaintiff can demonstrate with reasonable certainty that they will suffer specific future losses, such as future medical expenses, loss of future earnings, or future property damage.
  2. Causation Established:

    • The plaintiff can establish a causal link between the defendant's actions and the anticipated future losses.
  3. Mitigation Not Possible:

    • The plaintiff cannot reasonably mitigate the future losses through their actions.


Suppose a doctor negligently misdiagnoses a patient's illness, resulting in a delay in treatment and worsened health. The patient can claim compensatory damages for current medical expenses, pain, and suffering (general damages). Additionally, they can claim prospective damages for anticipated future medical expenses and future pain and suffering if the worsening condition necessitates ongoing medical treatment.


The availability of various kinds of damages in tort law ensures that plaintiffs can seek appropriate compensation for the harm or loss caused by the defendant's actions. Compensatory damages cover both general and special losses, while punitive damages aim to punish and deter wrongful conduct. Nominal damages acknowledge the infringement of rights, and restitutionary damages aim to restore the plaintiff's position. Prospective damages, on the other hand, provide compensation for anticipated future losses when certain criteria are met. Understanding the types of damages and their applicability is crucial in seeking appropriate remedies in tort cases.

Q3: From 'Mathura' to 'Nirbhaya and beyond, discuss the development of Rape laws in India
Introduction: The development of rape laws in India has seen significant transformations, influenced by social, cultural, and legal factors. The cases of 'Mathura' and 'Nirbhaya' mark pivotal moments in this evolution. The legal reforms that followed aimed to address the deficiencies and shortcomings in the earlier legislation. This discussion outlines the evolution of rape laws in India, focusing on these landmark cases and the subsequent legislative and judicial responses.

Evolution of Rape Laws:

  1. Pre-Independence Era:

    • During British rule, laws related to rape were primarily designed to protect the interests of the colonial masters and were racially biased.
  2. Post-Independence:

    • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 included provisions related to sexual offenses, including rape (Section 375), which defined the offense and the circumstances constituting rape.
  3. Mathura Case (1972):

    • The Mathura case brought attention to the inadequacies of the legal system in addressing sexual assault. The acquittal of the accused due to lack of resistance and injury to the victim triggered public outrage and a demand for legal reform.
  4. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983:

    • Amendments were made to the IPC, enhancing the punishment for rape and recognizing a higher age of consent for sexual intercourse.
  5. Nirbhaya Case (2012):

    • The brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi led to widespread protests and renewed calls for legal reforms. The case highlighted the urgent need for stricter laws to address sexual violence.
  6. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013:

    • Significant amendments were made, broadening the definition of rape, increasing penalties, introducing new offenses like acid attacks, and including gender-neutral terminology to address male victims of sexual assault.
  7. #MeToo Movement:

    • The global #MeToo movement shed light on sexual harassment and assault, encouraging survivors to speak out. It further emphasized the importance of creating a safe environment and ensuring legal recourse for victims.
  8. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018:

    • The Act introduced the death penalty for rape of minors under the age of 12 and increased the minimum punishment for rape to 20 years.


The evolution of rape laws in India reflects a trajectory from colonial and patriarchal perspectives to an increased focus on gender justice and victim protection. Landmark cases like 'Mathura' and 'Nirbhaya' served as catalysts for legislative changes, leading to amendments that provided stronger legal measures against sexual assault. The journey continues with ongoing efforts to ensure a safer society for all and the appropriate punishment for perpetrators of sexual offenses.

Q4: Explain the liability of Joint Tortfeasors' for a wrongful Act. How is it different from the liability of 'Independent Tortfeasors'?
Introduction: Tort law addresses civil wrongs where one party's actions cause harm or injury to another. In some cases, multiple parties might be involved in causing the harm. Understanding the liability of joint tortfeasors and independent tortfeasors is crucial to determine their respective responsibilities in tort cases. This explanation will delve into the differences in liability, responsibilities, and legal implications for joint and independent tortfeasors.

Liability of Joint Tortfeasors:

  1. Definition:

    • Joint tortfeasors are individuals or entities who act together to commit a wrongful act or cause harm to a third party.
  2. Liability:

    • Joint tortfeasors share joint and several liability, meaning the injured party can sue any or all of them for the entire damage caused.
  3. Contribution among Joint Tortfeasors:

    • If one joint tortfeasor pays more than their share of liability, they can seek contribution from the other joint tortfeasors for their proportionate share.
  4. Example:

    • In a car accident, if two drivers were racing and caused the accident, both would be joint tortfeasors, and the injured party can sue either or both for damages.

Liability of Independent Tortfeasors:

  1. Definition:

    • Independent tortfeasors are individuals or entities who commit separate wrongful acts that cause harm to a third party.
  2. Liability:

    • Independent tortfeasors are individually liable for the harm they cause, and the injured party must pursue separate actions against each tortfeasor.
  3. Non-sharing of Liability:

    • Independent tortfeasors do not share joint and several liability. Each is responsible for the harm they directly caused.
  4. Example:

    • In a scenario where two people commit separate assaults on the same victim at different times and places, they are independent tortfeasors. The victim can sue each of them individually for their respective actions.


Understanding the liability of joint tortfeasors and independent tortfeasors is essential in tort law. Joint tortfeasors share joint and several liability, allowing the injured party to seek damages from any or all of them for the entire harm caused. In contrast, independent tortfeasors are individually liable for their actions, and the injured party must pursue separate actions against each tortfeasor. Clear comprehension of these distinctions helps in determining appropriate legal action and allocating liability in tort cases.

Q5: In an action for 'Negligence'. what does the plantiff need to establish in order to allix civil liability of defendant ? What does it take for the maxim 'res ipsa loquitor' to apply?
Introduction: Negligence is a fundamental principle in tort law, where a person or entity is held responsible for causing harm or injury due to a lack of reasonable care. To establish civil liability in a negligence action, the plaintiff must fulfill certain requirements and prove the defendant's negligence. Additionally, the principle of 'res ipsa loquitur' is a legal doctrine that can aid the plaintiff in proving negligence. This discussion will elaborate on what the plaintiff needs to establish in an action for negligence and how the principle of 'res ipsa loquitur' applies.

Establishing Civil Liability in Negligence:

  1. Duty of Care:

    • The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, a legal obligation to act prudently to prevent foreseeable harm.
  2. Breach of Duty:

    • The plaintiff needs to establish that the defendant breached the duty of care by not acting as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances.
  3. Causation:

    • The plaintiff must prove that the defendant's breach of duty was the proximate cause of the harm or injury suffered.
  4. Damages:

    • The plaintiff should provide evidence of actual damages or losses suffered as a result of the defendant's breach of duty.

Application of 'Res Ipsa Loquitur':

  1. Definition:

    • 'Res ipsa loquitur' translates to "the thing speaks for itself." It is a legal doctrine used when the cause of an accident is obvious, and negligence can be implied without direct evidence.
  2. Requirements for Application:

    • The event must be of a kind that normally wouldn't occur in the absence of negligence.
    • The defendant must have exclusive control over the instrumentality causing the harm.
    • The plaintiff's actions should not have contributed to the harm.
  3. Application to Establish Negligence:

    • The doctrine allows the plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of negligence without direct evidence by showing that the accident wouldn't have happened in the absence of negligence.


Suppose a patient undergoes surgery, and a surgical instrument is left inside their body, causing further harm. To establish negligence:

  • Duty of Care: The surgeon owes a duty of care to the patient during surgery.
  • Breach of Duty: Leaving a surgical instrument inside the patient constitutes a breach of duty.
  • Causation: The instrument left inside the patient caused harm and further medical issues.
  • Damages: The patient experienced physical and emotional distress due to the negligence.


To hold a defendant civilly liable for negligence, a plaintiff needs to prove the defendant's duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. However, when the accident speaks for itself and the conditions for 'res ipsa loquitur' are met, the plaintiff can establish a presumption of negligence without direct evidence. This doctrine aids in ensuring justice and accountability when the defendant has exclusive control over the situation and the harm caused is not within the ordinary course of events.

The document UPSC Mains Answer PYQ 2021: Law Paper 2 (Section- A) | Law Optional Notes for UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Law Optional Notes for UPSC.
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