Law ministry is planning to establish several new courts, including evening ones, to wipe out the growing burden of pendency of cases. This is good news for aspiring judges, who can now find vacant judicial positions every few months in some Indian state or the other. the Delhi judicial services have 60 vacancies this year and the preliminary exam was held in January. The main exam is to follow. Haryana judicial services exam will be held in July and the Madhya Pradesh judicial services test is scheduled to take place in August.
After studying law from a reputable law college, a consistent and devoted preparation for three months (or six months at the maximum) can help you crack the judicial services exam, believes L Shah*, a civil judge in Faridabad District Court, who cleared the Haryana judicial services exam in 2007. There are essentially two approaches to follow while preparing for the judicial services exam. One is horizontal and the other vertical. Horizontal approach signifies exhaustive study of maximum number of topics while the later refers to an in-depth study of limited topics.
The first comes handy for the preliminary exam where you have to read exhaustively and you must prepare to solve the objective questions. The reading of bare acts and celebrated case laws comprise horizontal preparation. You can’t afford to skip even a single topic.
After the preparation through this approach is done, you should embark on a vertical approach, which equips you to hit the bull’s eye (read mains exam).
This is the lateral study of legal subjects wherein you have to prepare each and every topic in its entirety. A simple textbook approach can’t be followed. To cite an example, when you study the recent Supreme Court’s order prohibiting investigative agencies to carry out narco test then it must be studied in the light of different laws including law of evidence and constitution law. This way, each subject must be studied thoroughly.
“It is imperative that you get selective while choosing the topics (in vertical approach). And while preparing for those topics, do them in their entirety. If you are studying CPC (code of civil procedure), you must study article 10 and 11 first. Anything studied before that is wastage of time. In the registration act, if you have not studied section 17 and 49 it is as good as not touching the topic at all,” adds Shah.
In a university exam (in LLB), you tend to write long answers, which comprise five-six pages each but in judicial services exam, you are meant to answer
For the judicial services of different states, you have to do 15-20 per cent of extra preparation. The Delhi judicial services exam don’t ask questions on the transfer of property act but for the judicial services exams of the states of MP, UP and Bihar, it is an important subject. For the services in Punjab and Haryana, you must prepare the customary laws such as those dealing with the family law, succession and adoption.
For the UP judicial services exam, you must study local laws such as UP’s land law. Delhi’s exam asks questions on the Delhi rent control act.
Codified common sense
Law is nothing but codified common sense. Some students start mugging the bare acts while these should be understood in proper context. Procedural codes of the law — code of civil procedure (CPC) and code of criminal procedure (CrPC) — are easy to understand but before studying them one should have first hand knowledge of substantive law and then only its enforcement through procedural law can be understood properly.
You must have your basics clear. The one who files a suit is known as plaintiff in CPC while the same person is called ‘state’ in criminal proceedings. The person against whom a case is filed is called defendant in CPC and defence in CrPC. “In case you wish to review the judgment (when the verdict is held against you), it can be done as per the provisions given in the ‘order 47’ in CPC while the same provision is mentioned in ‘order 362’ in CrPC. When constitutional matter is involved, you can file the review petition as per ‘article 137’. It is interesting to note that the sum total of all the review provisions, 47 (4+7), 362 (3+6+2) and 137 (1+3+7) is eleven,” says Alok Kumar Ranjan, who runs a coaching academy by the name of Ambition Law Institute.
Another useful trick to crack the exam is to focus on one word ideology. There is one key word around which most of the related provisions can be understood. To cite an example, there is a word ‘appropriation’ in section 23 of the sales of goods act. Try asking questions around this word. Who will do the appropriation? How will that be done? Etc. Find- ing suitable answers to these call for an innovative approach. You must be able to analyse and compare different provisions of the act.
As there are many similar/common concepts in different subjects having the same underlying philosophy and conceptual context, they should be studied in comparative mode, which helps better retention and superior understanding. For example, if we study President, Governor and Vice President in a comparative manner then it becomes very easy to understand.
Another useful technique to learn law is the ‘group’ method, which will help you remember the provisions for a long duration. Every chronology in the legal books is logical and easy to remember. In the case of constitution, if we talk about government and its powers it starts from the country, regions, citizens and comes down to states, union territories and panchayat, beginning from part one and ending at part 10. The part VII was removed after constitution was amended in 1956.
“As per the group method, first four parts have provisions related to country and its people while next five parts entail issues related to the administrative,
legislature and judicial structure of the country. It starts from the union of India and bottles down to panchayat system in part nine and 10,” says Ranjan.
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* Name changed on request
Judges are paid well
A civil judge shares his experience of cracking the judicial services exam
After finishing my LLB in 2004 from the University of Delhi, I took admission in LLM programme with an aim to become a law professor afterwards. During my postgraduation, I ran into a friend-cum-senior who had just cleared his IAS that time. He advised me to reconsider my career options and later, I realised that being a judicial officer was the best option for me.
After my LLM (2006), I prepared for six months at a stretch and gave the judicial services exam in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Chattisgarh (in 2007). After clearing preliminary and mains, I got the interview call from Haryana and later UP, but I chose to join the former. For the preliminary exam you must do thorough preparation. You either know or you don’t know.
In the mains exam, they expect you to have good knowledge of certain topics. For that, you must be analytical and ought to make text references beyond the course books such as law commission reports. Until I was in the law college, I never knew that one could also use law commission reports as references. To crack the exam, you are required to update your knowledge as much as you can. One must read judgments in the latest cases pronounced by Supreme Court and High Courts.
Some of the oft-repeated questions include the ones on plea-bargaining, pendency of cases and accountability of judges. But you can’t answer the questions without referring to Malimath Committee report (which came only last year).
Normally one can’t figure out what is relevant among the gamut of cases, committee reports and judgments. It calls for the right guidance under an intelligent teacher.
Some people argue that being a judge doesn’t pay well. But to my mind, for a fresh law graduate, Rs 45-50,000 is good money. No law firm in India pays this much to a fresh law graduate, not even after six months in the job.
L Shah*, a civil judge in Faridabad District Court