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UPSC Mains Answer PYQ 2023: Law Paper 1 (Section- A) | Law Optional Notes for UPSC PDF Download

Section - A

Q1: Answer the following questions in about 150 words each :  (10x5=50)
(a) “Preamble of the Indian Constitution is indicative of basic values that the political system is expected to pursue.” How far do you agree with the statement ? Explain with the reference to values that have been enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.     (10 Marks)
Ans: 

Introduction:
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution serves as a guiding light, reflecting the fundamental values that form the bedrock of the nation. It outlines the aspirations and objectives of the Constitution makers.

Key Values Enshrined:

  • Sovereign: The term 'sovereign' signifies the authority of the people of India to govern themselves. This value emphasizes independence from external control.

  • Socialist: The term 'socialist' reflects the commitment to the welfare of the people, and the goal of reducing economic disparities through equitable distribution of resources.

  • Secular: 'Secular' underlines the principle of state neutrality in matters of religion. It ensures that all religions are treated equally and there is no discrimination on religious grounds.

  • Democratic: Democracy is a cornerstone, guaranteeing the right to participation, representation, and decision-making by the people.

  • Republic: India's status as a republic means that the head of state is elected, not hereditary. It establishes the principle of equality among citizens.

  • Justice: Justice encompasses social, economic, and political justice. It aims to provide fair treatment to all citizens and ensure that none is marginalized.

  • Liberty: This value guarantees freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship, as well as the right to assemble peacefully and without arms.

  • Equality: Equality assures that every citizen is equal before the law, without discrimination based on race, religion, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Conclusion: 
The Preamble encapsulates the ideals that the Indian Constitution seeks to achieve. These values guide the legal, political, and social framework of the nation, serving as a beacon for governance and decision-making.

(b) “The office of the President under the Indian Constitution has been designed to be largely that of a ‘figurehead’.” Explain, with reference to the cases decided on the subject.     (10 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction:
The office of the President in India holds a unique position, serving as the ceremonial head of the state. While vested with constitutional powers, these are largely exercised on the advice of the Council of Ministers.

Cases Decided on the Subject:

  • Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab (1974): This case emphasized that the President must act on the advice of the Council of Ministers, except in certain discretionary powers which are very limited.

  • Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973): This landmark case established the doctrine of the 'Basic Structure' of the Constitution, emphasizing that even constitutional amendments can't alter its fundamental framework.

Conclusion: 
The President's role is primarily symbolic, with actual powers exercised in accordance with the advice of the elected government. The Constitution provides for a balance of power, ensuring that executive authority is wielded by elected representatives.

(c) “There is an obvious slant in favour of the Centre, in distribution of powers between Centre and States.” Do you agree with the statement ? Explain.     (10 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 

The distribution of powers between the Centre (Union) and the States is a critical feature of the Indian federal system. There is an ongoing debate regarding whether the Constitution favors the Centre over the States in terms of power distribution.

Center-Favoring Aspects:

  • Residuary Powers: According to Article 248, residuary powers of legislation are vested with the Centre. This means that any matter not specifically listed in the State or Concurrent List falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Centre.

  • Emergency Provisions: During a state of emergency, the Centre gains extensive powers, including the ability to assume executive authority over the States. This can be seen as a centralizing feature of the Constitution.

State Empowerment:

  • List of Subjects: The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution clearly demarcates the subjects on which the Centre and States can legislate. While some subjects are under the exclusive domain of the Centre, many fall under the purview of the States.

  • Special Provisions: Articles like 371 and 371A grant special provisions for certain states, giving them more autonomy and powers, countering the perception of centralization.

Conclusion: 
While there may be elements in the Indian Constitution that suggest a bias in favor of the Centre, it is essential to consider the overall federal structure and the distribution of powers. The Constitution's framers aimed for a delicate balance between centralization and state autonomy to address the diverse needs of the nation. The interpretation and application of these provisions have often varied based on specific cases and circumstances.

(d) “The principles of natural justice are not cast in stone and there is always a possibility of deviation from stated principles of law in view of overall demands of justice.” Explain citing decided cases on the subject.    (10 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
The principles of natural justice, including the right to a fair hearing, unbiased decision-making, and absence of arbitrariness, are fundamental in legal proceedings. However, these principles are not rigid and can be subject to deviation when the overall demands of justice necessitate it.

Deviation from Natural Justice:

  • Expediency: In certain cases, administrative authorities may bypass the normal procedures of natural justice due to urgency or expediency. For instance, in cases of national security or public safety, immediate action might be needed, limiting the scope for a fair hearing.

  • Public Interest: In instances where public interest is at stake, authorities may take measures that temporarily deviate from natural justice principles. For example, the government might seize counterfeit drugs without providing prior notice to manufacturers.

Judicial Recognition of Deviation:

  • A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India (1969): The Supreme Court recognized that in cases of urgency, where natural justice procedures might cause delay, administrative actions can proceed without a full-fledged hearing.

  • Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): The Supreme Court stressed that even though deviations from natural justice may occur, the core principles of fairness and reasonableness must be upheld. Any action taken in the interest of justice must be proportionate and reasonable.

Conclusion: 
The principles of natural justice are essential in maintaining a just and fair administrative system. However, there are circumstances where deviation is not only permissible but necessary to serve the overall demands of justice. Such deviations should always be reasonable, proportionate, and guided by the principles of fairness and reasonableness, as upheld by various judicial decisions.

(e) Explain and elucidate the grounds of judicial review for administrative action, by quoting decided cases on the subject.      (10 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
Judicial review is a cornerstone of the Indian legal system, allowing the judiciary to examine and potentially invalidate actions of the executive and administrative bodies. Several grounds provide the basis for such reviews.

Grounds for Judicial Review:

  • Ultra Vires: Actions taken by an administrative body that exceed the scope of their legal authority can be challenged. For example, in the case of Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar (1964), the Supreme Court held that the government's order was ultra vires.

  • Procedural Impropriety: If an administrative body fails to follow proper procedures or violates principles of natural justice, its actions can be subject to judicial review. For instance, in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978), the Court emphasized the importance of procedural fairness.

  • Arbitrariness and Unreasonableness: Actions that are arbitrary, unreasonable, or capricious can be struck down. In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Prakash Chand (1998), the Court held that an arbitrary exercise of power is liable to be set aside.

  • Error of Law: When an administrative body misinterprets or misapplies the law, the courts can intervene. In the case of Associated Cement Companies Ltd. v. P.N. Sharma (1965), the Court emphasized that errors of law can be a ground for judicial review.

  • Mala Fide: If an action is taken with a malicious intent or for an improper purpose, it can be subject to judicial scrutiny. The principle was upheld in the case of Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh (1955).

Conclusion: 
The grounds for judicial review provide a crucial mechanism for ensuring that administrative actions conform to legal and constitutional standards. Through various landmark cases, the Indian judiciary has established a robust framework for reviewing and potentially striking down actions that are illegal, arbitrary, or unjust. This serves to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of citizens against overreach by administrative authorities.

Q2:
(a) “The Constitution of India has provided for a clear-cut distinction between civil and political rights on the one hand and economic and cultural rights on the other, with a distinct primacy given to civil and political rights.” Explain.      (20 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
The Constitution of India establishes a framework for the rights and freedoms of its citizens. It delineates a clear distinction between civil and political rights on one hand, and economic and cultural rights on the other, with a distinct emphasis on civil and political rights.

Primacy of Civil and Political Rights:

  • Emphasis on Individual Liberties: The Constitution places a significant emphasis on safeguarding individual liberties such as freedom of speech and expression (Article 19), right to life and personal liberty (Article 21), and protection against discrimination (Article 15).

  • Ensuring Political Participation: The Constitution provides for democratic institutions, including elections and representation, to ensure citizen participation in the political process. Articles 324 to 329 establish the Election Commission, emphasizing the importance of political rights.

  • Judicial Safeguards: The judiciary plays a vital role in upholding civil and political rights. The power of judicial review (Article 13) ensures that laws and actions do not infringe upon these rights.

Economic and Cultural Rights:

  • Directive Principles of State Policy: These principles (Part IV of the Constitution) lay down the socio-economic goals that the State should strive to achieve. They include provisions for securing livelihood, equal pay for equal work, and promotion of educational and economic interests of weaker sections (Article 38, 39, and 46).

  • Limitations on Property Rights: The Constitution places restrictions on the right to property (Article 300A) and allows for its acquisition for public purposes. This reflects the prioritization of economic interests over absolute property rights.

Examples:

  • In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978), the Supreme Court expanded the scope of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) to include the right to travel abroad, highlighting the primacy of civil liberties.

  • The implementation of policies like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) reflects the government's commitment to economic rights by guaranteeing the right to work.

Conclusion: 
While both sets of rights are integral to a comprehensive human rights framework, the Constitution of India gives a distinct primacy to civil and political rights. This emphasis ensures that individual liberties and democratic processes are protected, while also recognizing the importance of economic and cultural rights in achieving a just and equitable society.

(b) “Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies have been accorded constitutional status.” Explain the ambit and structure of the authority of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies under the Indian Constitution.      (15 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are crucial components of local self-government in India. The Constitution has accorded them constitutional status to empower local governance.

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs):

  • Constitutional Provisions: Part IX of the Constitution deals with PRIs. Article 243 defines PRIs as institutions of self-government at the village, intermediate, and district levels. Article 243B to 243O provide for their composition, reservation of seats, and powers.

  • Structure and Functions: PRIs consist of Gram Panchayats at the village level, Panchayat Samitis at the intermediate level, and Zilla Parishads at the district level. They have powers related to planning, implementation, and monitoring of developmental programs.

  • Reservation for Weaker Sections: The Constitution mandates reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and women in PRIs to ensure inclusive and participatory governance.

Urban Local Bodies (ULBs):

  • Constitutional Provisions: Part IXA of the Constitution pertains to ULBs. Article 243P defines ULBs as institutions of self-government in urban areas. Articles 243Q to 243ZE detail their composition, powers, and functions.

  • Structure and Functions: ULBs encompass Municipalities at various levels - Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils, and Nagar Panchayats. They have responsibilities for local planning, infrastructure development, and service provision.

  • Reservation for Weaker Sections: Similar to PRIs, reservations are mandated for SCs, STs, and women in ULBs to ensure inclusivity and representation.

Examples:

  • The 74th Amendment Act of 1992 provided a constitutional framework for urban local governance, emphasizing the importance of decentralization and local self-government.

  • The successful implementation of schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Smart Cities Mission demonstrates the role of ULBs in addressing urban development challenges.

Conclusion: 
The constitutional status accorded to PRIs and ULBs underscores the significance of local self-government in the Indian democratic system. This framework allows for grassroots-level participation and addresses local issues effectively. Through reservations for marginalized sections, the Constitution ensures inclusivity and representation in these institutions, promoting a more equitable and participatory form of governance.

(c) “The Constitution of India provides constitutional status and protection to civil servants.” What protections have been secured for civil servants in India ? Explain.    (15 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
The Constitution of India provides certain safeguards and protections for civil servants to ensure their impartiality, independence, and efficiency in the execution of their duties.

Protections for Civil Servants:

  • Security of Tenure: Article 311 of the Constitution provides protection against arbitrary dismissal, removal, or reduction in rank of civil servants. It mandates a fair inquiry and an opportunity to be heard before any adverse action is taken.

  • No Reduction in Rank: Article 311(2) ensures that a civil servant cannot be reduced in rank or otherwise penalized without a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves.

  • Protection of Service Conditions: The terms and conditions of service for civil servants are typically regulated by statutory rules and regulations. These rules are framed to ensure fairness and equity in employment.

  • Prohibition on Political Activities: Civil servants are generally prohibited from engaging in political activities or expressing views on political matters that could compromise their impartiality and neutrality.

  • Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity: Article 16 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth in matters of employment or appointment to any office.

Examples:

  • In the case of Samsher Singh v. State of Punjab (1974), the Supreme Court clarified that the protection under Article 311 is not absolute, and certain categories of civil servants may be excluded from its scope.

  • The All India Services Act, 1951, provides for the constitution of All India Services (IAS, IPS, IFS), ensuring a cadre of civil servants with common rules and principles for their service.

Conclusion: 
The Constitution of India establishes a robust framework to protect the rights and interests of civil servants. These provisions are essential to maintain the integrity, independence, and effectiveness of the civil services in upholding the rule of law and serving the interests of the nation. By ensuring due process and fair treatment, the Constitution safeguards the crucial role that civil servants play in the functioning of the Indian state.

Q3:
(a) “Superintendence, direction and control of elections is vested in the office of the Election Commission and therefore, the appointment of Election Commissioner is of crucial importance in conducting free and fair elections.” Critically examine the above statement with reference to recent judicial decisions.    (20 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
The appointment of Election Commissioners is a crucial aspect of ensuring the fairness and integrity of the electoral process in a democratic nation like India. The Election Commission of India (ECI) plays a pivotal role in overseeing and regulating elections, and the appointment of its members holds significant importance.

Recent Judicial Decisions:

  • S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India (2020): In this case, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of maintaining the integrity and impartiality of the Election Commission. It held that the Election Commission should function as a cohesive body, and any discord among its members can undermine its effectiveness.

  • Ashok Lavasa's Dissent: Recently, one of the Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa, had a notable dissent in several election-related decisions, bringing attention to the need for consensus and transparency within the Commission.

Critically Examining the Statement:

  • Crucial Role of Election Commission: The ECI is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting free and fair elections, which is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic system. The superintendence, direction, and control of elections are vested in the ECI to ensure its autonomy and impartiality.

  • Significance of Appointment: The appointment of Election Commissioners is critical because it directly impacts the functioning and credibility of the Election Commission. Commissioners must be individuals of impeccable integrity, impartiality, and experience in electoral matters.

  • Need for Consensus: Recent instances of dissent within the Commission highlight the importance of selecting Commissioners who can work harmoniously. A lack of consensus can lead to a perception of bias or division within the Commission, potentially eroding public trust.

Conclusion: 
In conclusion, the appointment of Election Commissioners is indeed of crucial importance in conducting free and fair elections. Recent judicial decisions and instances of dissent within the Commission underline the need for careful selection and consensus among Commissioners to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the Election Commission.

(b) “ ‘Legal-Aid’ provides a basic tool for access to justice for poor and marginalized sections of society.” Discuss and elucidate the Constitutional provisions and the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.     (15 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
Legal aid is an essential component of ensuring access to justice for all, especially for the marginalized and economically weaker sections of society. It provides a means for individuals to seek legal remedies and safeguards their rights.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 39A: The Constitution of India, through Article 39A, directs the State to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and provides free legal aid to those who cannot afford it.

  • Article 21: The right to legal aid has been interpreted as an integral part of the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987:

  • Establishment of Legal Services Authorities: The Act establishes National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), State Legal Services Authorities, and District Legal Services Authorities to provide free legal services to eligible persons.

  • Eligibility Criteria: The Act defines the criteria for eligibility, ensuring that legal aid is provided to economically and socially disadvantaged groups, women, children, and other marginalized sections.

  • Modes of Providing Legal Aid: The Act outlines various modes of providing legal aid, including legal advice, drafting of pleadings, representation in court, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Examples:

  • The "Nyaya Sanyog" initiative by NALSA uses technology to connect underprivileged litigants with volunteer lawyers, increasing access to legal aid.

  • Landmark cases like Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar (1980) and Suk Das v. Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh (1986) emphasized the right to free legal aid as a fundamental right.

Conclusion: 
Legal aid, as provided for in the Constitutional provisions and through the Legal Services Authorities Act, serves as a fundamental tool for access to justice, particularly for the poor and marginalized. It ensures that individuals are not denied justice merely due to economic constraints. Through various initiatives and interventions, legal aid has become a critical component of India's justice system.

(c) “The strength of the ‘eminent domain’ is inversely proportional to the strength of democratic structure of any system.” Do you agree with this statement ? Explain.    (15 Marks) 
Ans:
 
Introduction: 
Eminent domain refers to the power of the state to take private property for public use, with compensation. The strength of this power is often influenced by the democratic structure of a system.

Inverse Proportionality:

  • Authoritarian Regimes: In authoritarian systems, the government may exercise eminent domain with little regard for individual rights. The state's authority is often unchecked, and property rights may be easily overridden.

  • Democratic Systems: In democratic systems, the exercise of eminent domain is typically more constrained. There are checks and balances in place, including judicial review, public consultations, and requirements for fair compensation.

Examples:

  • Kelo v. City of New London (2005): In the United States, the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo expanded the definition of public use to include economic development projects. This decision sparked significant debate about the extent of eminent domain in a democratic society.

  • Land Acquisition in India: In India, the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, brought in significant reforms to strike a balance between development needs and safeguarding the rights of landowners. It emphasizes the importance of fair compensation and consent of affected parties.

Conclusion: 
The strength of eminent domain is indeed influenced by the democratic structure of a system. In democratic societies, there is a greater emphasis on protecting individual property rights and ensuring that the exercise of eminent domain is just, reasonable, and in the public interest. This reflects the democratic commitment to balancing the needs of the community with the rights of individuals.

Q4:
(a) What do you understand by breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State ? Critically examine the powers of the President in imposing President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution, by citing decided cases on the point.     (20 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
The breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State refers to a situation where the governance in a state is disrupted to such an extent that it can no longer function in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Article 356 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to impose President's Rule in such cases.

Powers of the President under Article 356:

  • Grounds for Imposition: The President can impose President's Rule if he/she is satisfied that the governance in a state cannot be carried out according to the provisions of the Constitution.

  • Governor's Report: Usually, the President relies on a report from the Governor of the concerned state. However, the President is not bound by the Governor's report and can seek information from other sources as well.

  • Council of Ministers' Dissolution: The President can dismiss the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister and assume all the powers of the state government.

  • State Legislative Assembly Suspension: The President can also suspend the operation of the provisions of the Constitution relating to the state legislature.

Critique of President's Rule:

  • Potential for Misuse: The provision has been criticized for its potential to be misused for political gains. There have been instances where President's Rule was imposed on flimsy grounds.

  • Impact on Federal Structure: It temporarily disrupts the federal structure by centralizing power, which goes against the principle of federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

Decided Cases:

  • S.R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994): This landmark case laid down guidelines to prevent arbitrary imposition of President's Rule. It emphasized that the majority of the Council of Ministers should be party members commanding majority in the Legislative Assembly.

  • Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India (2006): The Supreme Court held that the Governor's report can be subject to judicial review, ensuring that it is not based on extraneous or irrelevant considerations.

Conclusion: 
While Article 356 provides a mechanism to address extreme situations of constitutional breakdown, it must be used judiciously to uphold the principles of democracy and federalism. The landmark judgments in cases like S.R. Bommai have played a significant role in ensuring that President's Rule is imposed only under exceptional circumstances.

(b) Discuss the objectives of the establishment of Lokpal and Lok Ayukta, and their powers and functions under the Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas Act, 2013. Examine the effectiveness of the said Act.    (15 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
Lokpal and Lok Ayukta are institutions established to combat corruption in public life. They aim to provide a mechanism for citizens to raise corruption-related grievances against public officials.

Objectives:

  • Addressing Corruption: The primary objective is to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption among public officials, including high-ranking politicians and bureaucrats.

  • Enhancing Accountability: By providing an independent body to investigate corruption, it aims to enhance transparency and accountability in public administration.

Powers and Functions under Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas Act, 2013:

  • Investigation: Lokpal has the power to investigate allegations of corruption against public servants. Lok Ayuktas have similar powers at the state level.

  • Prosecution: Lokpal can initiate prosecution in special courts. It can also recommend disciplinary action against corrupt officials.

  • Whistleblower Protection: The Act provides protection to whistleblowers who report corruption.

Effectiveness:

  • Delayed Implementation: The establishment and functioning of Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas were delayed, which hindered their effectiveness in the initial years.

  • Limited Impact: The institutions have faced challenges in terms of resources, infrastructure, and coordination with various state agencies, limiting their impact.

Example:

  • The appointment of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the first Lokpal of India in 2019 marked a significant milestone in the functioning of the institution.

Conclusion: 
While the establishment of Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas is a significant step towards combating corruption, their effectiveness is contingent on factors such as adequate resources, autonomy, and cooperation from other state agencies. Over time, these institutions have the potential to play a crucial role in upholding transparency and accountability in public administration.

(c) If at any time, it appears to the President that a critical question o f law and fact has arisen, the President can obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court. Discuss the role of the Supreme Court in this matter, by giving suitable examples.    (15 Marks) 
Ans: 

Introduction: 
Article 143 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on critical questions of law and fact. This provision serves as a vital mechanism for resolving complex legal issues.

Role of the Supreme Court:

  • Advisory Jurisdiction: Article 143 provides the Supreme Court with advisory jurisdiction, allowing it to provide non-binding opinions to the President on complex legal matters.

  • Constitutional Interpretation: The Court's opinion can help in the interpretation of constitutional provisions, especially when there are differing views or legal ambiguities.

Examples:

  • Re Kerala Education Bill (1957): The President sought the Supreme Court's opinion on the validity of the Kerala Education Bill, which raised questions about state legislative powers and the right to establish and administer educational institutions.

  • Special Reference No. 1 of 2012: The President referred questions regarding the allocation and distribution of natural resources to the Supreme Court, seeking clarity on legal and policy issues.

Significance:

  • Avoiding Constitutional Crisis: Seeking the Supreme Court's opinion can help prevent potential constitutional crises by providing clarity on complex legal matters.

  • Enhancing Constitutional Governance: It underscores the importance of upholding constitutional principles and ensures that legal decisions are made after careful consideration.

Conclusion: The provision for the President to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court under Article 143 is a crucial mechanism in the Indian legal system. It serves to uphold the rule of law and ensures that legal decisions are made with the highest regard for constitutional principles and precedents. The advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in such matters contributes significantly to the robustness of the Indian legal framework.

The document UPSC Mains Answer PYQ 2023: Law Paper 1 (Section- A) | Law Optional Notes for UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Law Optional Notes for UPSC.
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