Judicial Services Examination is an entry-level exam for law graduates to become members of the subordinate judiciary. The state governments under the supervision of the respective High Courts appoint members of the lower judiciary based on this competitive exam. It is estimated that about 50-60,000 candidates appear for Judicial Services Examination each year.
For specific information on Delhi Judicial Service Exam, click
Lower Judicial Services
The eligibility criteria for appearing in Judicial Services Examination is a degree in LLB & enrolment or qualification for an advocate under the Advocates Act, 1961. No experience is required as such & final year candidates can also appear. The age limit varies between states but is usually between 21 to 35 years.
Higher Judicial Services
Candidates must be graduates in law and have a minimum number of years of litigating practice; usually 7 years.
Structure of the Examination
Judicial Service Examination is held in 3 stages – namely Preliminary Examination, Mains & Interview.
Preliminary Examination – The preliminary examination comprises of objective type questions & serves as a screening tool for Mains Exam. The Preliminary Exam scores are not counted subsequently (once students qualify to next stage). The qualifying marks differ from state to state but the minimum usually is 60% in the General category & 55% in the Reserved category.
Mains Examination – This is subjective type exam and comprises of 3-4 papers. The marks secured here are added to subsequent stage to arrive at the final score of the candidate. Candidates who clear this stage are then called for Personal Interview
Personal Interview – This is the final stage and usually would have about 3 times the number of vacancies. Candidates are assessed on the basis of general interest, personality & intelligence among other factors.
The syllabus varies across states. It is broadly divided into Civil Law, Criminal Law and Language Paper. The weight given to the language paper is around 20-35%. The mains examination constitutes 6 to 7 papers and almost 70% of the questions pertain to law.
How to Prepare?
Candidates must prepare a plan of action and implement the same diligently. Besides knowledge of the subject, one must also be aware of Current Affairs. Candidates should first understand the syllabus and then begin their preparation. They should create a proper study plan. Reading newspapers & magazines is quite important.
Needless to say, Judiciary as a profession is highly respected. It offers a secure & safe career with comfortable compensation. A career in judicial services has 2 levels –Lower Judicial Services is for fresh graduates. Selection is through an entrance exam conducted by the respective State Public Service Commission (UP, MP etc.) or the High Courts (Delhi, for instance). There are time bound promotions & the tenure is secure.
Higher Judicial Services is for practicing lawyers. The selected applicants get posted as Additional District Judges & the promotion is at a faster pace.
Candidates appointed as Civil Judge (Junior Division) have the powers of a Judicial Magistrate (Second Class) & those promoted to Chief Judicial Magistrate have the powers of a Judicial Magistrate (First Class). Candidates appointed as Additional District and Sessions Judge are posted to High Court & in the rare case to the Supreme Court.
The judges of High Courts & Supreme Courts are appointed through the Collegium System. Candidates who go through the Judiciary Examination are not directly appointed to High Courts & Supreme Court but are eligible for promotion to the Higher Courts.
When to start Preparation?
It would usually require 9 – 12 months to prepare for the Judiciary Exam. While the current trend is that a candidate begins preparation after their LLB / LLM, they can ideally prepare along side with their law graduation.
At the moment, appointments to the lower judiciary are conducted state-wise but deliberations are on to establish a unified appointment mechanism, akin to the IAS services examination.