An Introduction to Judicial Services Examination

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Hey, aspirants! Welcome to the Lawctopus Judiciary Corner Series.

If you have clicked on this article, it means you are either preparing or making up your mind about attempting judicial service examinations. Well, don’t worry. It may seem like a daunting task and your mind must be filled with an endless number of questions, suggestions, and god knows what.

Let us help you.

This introductory article will discuss everything you need to know about the various Judicial Services examinations that happen every year across the country. We will cover every aspect- be it the stages of the examination preparation, application procedure, or why you should attempt the judicial exams. Our sole focus is to answer all your questions so that you can make an informed decision and kickstart your journey.

Overview of Judiciary Exams

Judicial Services Examination is a yearly conducted exam for the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Subordinate Courts. Every state in India has its individual judicial exam such as the Delhi Judicial exam, Haryana Judicial Service examination, etc.

These exams are conducted by the Public Service Commission of each state under the supervision of their respective High Courts.  

In total, 24 states in India conduct Judicial Service examinations nearly every year. These are:

Arunachal PradeshChhattisgarh
Himachal Pradesh
JharkhandMadhya PradeshMizoramPunjab
AssamGoaHaryanaKarnatakaMaharashtraNagalandRajasthan
BiharDelhiJ&KKeralaManipurOdishaSikkim
UttrakhandUttar PradeshWest Bengal
The list of states conducting judicial services examination.

Each of these states has its own age criteria, number of attempts, and official language, among other things. 

The Application Process for Judicial Exams

Unlike the UPSC exams which are mostly conducted in June, Judicial Examinations  happen, well, rather unexpectedly. Generally, the judiciary prelims are conducted after one month from the date of opening of the application form. For Mains, there is no certain time. It can be 20 days after the Prelims results are announced or 40 days or well, whatever. 

This is why many judicial aspirants start their judicial examination preparation in the penultimate year of law school, or even earlier. However, it is certainly  not the only ideal way to prepare. Many candidates in the past have been successful in clearing the examination while working a full-time job. So it depends upon the potential of the aspirants and their preparation strategy.

After filling up the application form, aspirants are required to pay a prescribed fee that varies for the general and reserved categories.  

Stages of Judiciary Exams

An aspirant needs to clear three stages to be appointed to the lower judiciary. These stages are:

  1. Preliminary 
  2. Mains
  3. Interview

After clearing all the above stages and qualifying for the merit list, aspirants will join the respective state’s Judicial Academy for a year or so to be trained to become a judge. At the Academy, successful aspirants will be taught the legal/judicial procedures, manner of being a judge, and the duties and power the position holds. After the successful completion of the training, the aspirants will become judges truly, madly, deeply and will join their respective courts. 

Syllabus of Judicial Exams

Like we mentioned before, even though the manner of conducting the examination is similar in all states, the syllabus is slightly different. 

So before preparing for the examination of any state, make sure to read the syllabus carefully. The procedural and substantive laws are similar. 

However, local laws and language papers differ from state to state. 

Restrictions

Aspirants need to fill the application form individually for each state for which they want to appear. There is no restriction in terms of how many state exams one aspirant can appear for. If an aspirant wants, he/she can appear for more than one exam in the same year.

However, there are other restrictions that an aspirant needs to be aware of.  Some of these are mentioned below:

Restriction of Age

The age factor differs for General and Reserved Category from state to state. The minimum prescribed age for all states is 22 years. 

However, for the general category, the majority of states prescribe 35 years to be the maximum age. 

For the reserved category, it can go up to 48 years. Also, some states may also provide for other relaxations,  like Goa has relaxed the age limit up to 10 years for women aspirants.

Before applying, read the notification carefully and see the eligibility criteria. 

Restriction on Number of Attempts

Some states like Delhi and UP have prescribed a certain number of attempts in the judicial service examination. For Delhi, the maximum attempts are 6. States like Bihar and Assam have no specific guidelines on the number of attempts. The only condition is one must not pass the age limit.

Restriction of Language

India being a multi-linguistic country offers more than just the Devnagri script as the mode of communication. Each state in India has its language. 

However, not all states require the aspirants to be familiar with the local language. But states like Punjab, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra do expect the aspirants to know the official language of the state. The reason being is that subordinate courts are the starting line of litigation battles. 

People sitting at the lower level must be able to comprehend what the litigant is saying whether in words or through documents. Most of this tends to be in the local language. 

Is Judiciary the Right Career Choice for you?

If you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, then stop reading. And take a moment (or two) to reflect on whether you think this is the right career path. There is no point in preparing for judicial service examination that you don’t think is the right fit for you. Any job, be it finance, marketing or social work requires certain skills. But some people who don’t have those skills acquire them with persistence and handwork.

The same is true for Judicial Services. The reason we are asking you to introspect  is that you will be devoting a whole year (or more) to becoming a judge and then spend the rest of your professional life in this career. Some of you might need to quit your job or an excellent academic opportunity to prepare for the exam. 

As a judge, you will be required to critically analyze cases and work under pressure in a not so comfortable atmosphere. 

Yes, the pay is good (but probably not as good as in corporates) and your future is secure from a job point of view. But what about the hours you will be spending in a court, listening continuously case after case. Being a judicial servant is a service that you give to the people; to ensure they have access to justice. 

So ask yourself this- are you willing to sacrifice a job or other important opportunity? Do you have enough patience to study each topic, subject, and book each day for  years? Can you handle the stressful situations many cases will put you face to face with each day till you retire?

Also, often, judicial officers tend to be posted in remote regions. Would you be able to make do with that? What about your (future) family?

It is very important to find answers to these questions because once selected, you can’t back out from the services without a valid reason.  

Conclusion

Judiciary preparation takes time. Many candidates take coaching, start studying while in law school to qualify for the exam. Not just that, less number of vacancies and a large number of knowledgeable, well-prepared, and sharp aspirants also make these exams so competitive. 

So if you have decided to pursue judiciary as a career and want to secure a position, then start preparing immediately. Make a note of the syllabus, highlight the important topics, read previous years’ question papers and get, set go!

We’d strongly advise aspirants not to waste years after years of their lives on the judicial service examination or any other exam, for that matter. Give yourself a deadline, say a year or two, after which you explore other options. Working part-time in remote jobs (after you have given the exam a serious shot or two) is also an option.

Some FAQs Relating to the Judicial Examination

Q. Do I need 3 years of practice to become a judge?

No. This rule is not applicable for aspirants appearing for lower judiciary exams.

Q. Can you become an ADJ or CMJ after clearing your exam?

No. Aspirants after qualifying for the exam start as Civil Judge(Junior Division).

Q. Is All India Judicial Services implemented already?

 Not yet. The proposal is still under consideration.

Q. Can a 5th-year student appear for a judicial examination?

Yes. However, at the time of appointment, they will be required to show proper documents of their graduation.

Q. What is the salary for judges?

Their pay ranges from ₹27700 – ₹44700 with additional perks and benefits.

Q. Do I need coaching to clear the exam?

It depends from person to person. For some people coaching has been useful in clearing the exam. However, many candidates also secure top ranks by doing self-study. 

Interested to know more about judicial exams? Click here.

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