This article has been written by Ishaan Banerjee, studying at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. This article shall explain the judicial service system in India and how to become a judge by cracking the Punjab Judicial Services Examination. This article shall also give some handy tips and tricks to help you crack the exam.
The judicial services are much sought after career option in India. In a country where having a government job is highly respected, and where government officers get perks and benefits unique to them, pursuing judicial services is a good option. The Punjab Judicial Services is one such option.
What are the judicial services?
Cracking the judicial services exams in India would only get you to the District Courts and the High Courts, the Supreme Court judges are appointed based on experience from the High Courts. There is no entry into the Supreme Court through any exam.
How can one become a judge?
There are actually two ways to do this-
- You can start your own litigation practice and hope to get elevated to the Bench someday. However, there is a lesser guarantee of success through this method. It will also take quite a lot of time.
- You can take the judicial service exam conducted by the state where you are interested to serve as a judicial officer.
- One has to know that there are two kinds of judicial service examinations conducted by a state-
- Lower judicial service exams: Fresh law graduates can apply here and if they pass it, they are appointed as judges in the District Courts. These exams are conducted by the public service commission of that particular state.
- Higher judicial service exams: Experienced and already practising lawyers are eligible to apply in these exams. Lawyers who apply to this exam must have had practised for at least a minimum of seven years. But it still depends on the discretion of many states.
- The benefit lies on the side of those giving the higher judicial service exams as these exams give direct entry to the senior level positions at the High Court while those giving the lower judicial services exams would get direct entry to the junior level positions at the District Court.
- It should also be noted that the lower judicial services have a fixed quota, on the basis of which judicial officers are elevated to the High Court. The figures of the quota are decided by the state’s High Court.
The Punjab Judicial Services Examination
The Punjab Judicial Services Examination is conducted by the Punjab Public Service Commission. It is conducted in three stages-
Preliminary exam: This will be an objective type exam. It consists of 125 multiple-choice questions (MCQs), where each question carries 4 marks. But there shall also be negative marking of 1.5 marks for each incorrect answer. The candidates are expected to have good command over basic general knowledge, prevailing legal issues, current affairs, Indian and Constitutional history and governance.
Apart from these, the syllabus for the prelims consists of the same syllabus that is covered under Papers I to IV under the Mains examination.
The exam will go on for 2 hours.
A candidate will not be allowed to appear in the Mains exam if he has scored less than 150 marks in the preliminary exam; if he belongs to a reserved category, then the cutoff for mains would be 100 marks. The number of candidates equal to ten times the number of vacancies, shall be selected in the order of merit in the respective categories,and these candidates shall be eligible for mains exam. However, if the last two candidates get the same marks, then they shall both be eligible to sit for the Mains exam.
Mains exam: This exam consists of five papers-
Paper I: Civil Law-I ( 200 marks)
Topics to be covered:
- The Code of Civil Procedure
- The Punjab Courts Act
- The Indian Contract Act
- The Indian Evidence Act
- The East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act
- The Indian Partnership Act
- The Sale of Goods Act
- Specific Relief Act
- The Transfer of Property Act
Paper-II: Civil Law -II (200 marks)
Topics to be covered:
- Limitation and Registration law
- Hindu law
- Muslim Law
- Customary law
Paper III: Criminal Law (200 marks)
This would include all acts and other legislations coming under criminal law in India., like The Indian Penal Code, The Indian Evidence Act and The Code of Criminal Procedure.
Paper IV: English ( 200 Marks)
This would consist of questions such as essay writing (1000 -1100 words), precis writing, making of sentences with given words and phrases, comprehensions and sentence corrections.
Paper V: Language ( 150 Marks)
This paper consists of Punjabi in Gurumukhi script. You would have to carry out translations.
Interview: This carries a weightage of 100 marks. The interview shall be conducted in English.
Candidates three times the number of posts in the order of merit shall be called to the interview. Further, no candidate having less than 50 % of the aggregate marks of the prelims and mains exams combined, and having failed the language paper, would be eligible for the interview.
In the case of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) of Punjab, candidates should have at least 45% of the aggregate marks of both prelims and mains papers and who have further passed the language paper, shall be called for interview.
When does the exam take place and how many attempts can one have?
The exam usually takes place in August. Ex-servicemen candidates are only permitted three attempts at the examination and even appearing at only one examination would still be deemed as an attempt.
- The applicant must be a citizen of India.
- The applicant must have a law degree from an institute or university recognised by the Bar Council of India. It also allows applicants from The Dacca University, The Tribhuvan University, Nepal, Sindh University in Rangoon and Mandalay University in Myanmar. Furthermore, it also allows Barrister of England or Ireland or a member of the Faculty of Advocates of Scotland to apply.
- The candidates must be less than or equal to 37 years of age.
- The candidates from SC and ST categories would get 5 years relaxation for age limit.
- The candidate must have studied Punjabi upto matriculation or its equivalent standard.
- Ex-servicemen shall be allowed to deduct the years of their service in the armed forces from their actual age, and if the resulting age does not exceed the limit as given by the rules for appointment by more than three years, then they shall be eligible to apply.
Mode of applying and mode of examination
The mode of applying is conducted online and the exam itself is held in offline mode.
Salary and other benefits of being a judge
The basic remuneration of a Punjab Judicial Service Civil Judge can be around Rs. 27, 700- Rs. 44,770, along with the usual dearness allowance and other allowances as sanctioned by the Punjab government. Along with these, the satisfaction of working hard and cracking the exam would always be with you. Judges are looked upon with great respect and have a good amount of authority. You would feel that your purpose of becoming a judge has been satisfied since you can now bring justice and do your own part for the society.
How to crack the exam?
It is no surprise that cracking the judicial services exam is a hard task since there is a lot of competition and also, the number of vacancies is severely limited and at times, does not arise at all. Therefore, one has to work strategically with a determined mindset.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the exam-
- First of all, one should remember that success is not just a combination of hard work. If you keep studying for 12 hours per day, but spend 8 hours on a particular topic, that would not be efficient and your time would be wasted. Rather, one should have a planned out study schedule, wherein you divide your time among the various topics and follow the schedule diligently.
- Consistency in studying and revising the concepts is key. Everything should be planned. Studying different topics in a span of 7 hours of total study time is better than trying to read everything at the eleventh hour.
- It would be advisable, to begin with the complex subjects like the CPC and the CrPC. Begin your preparation well in time so that you can devote ample amount of time towards studying these topics as they are relatively difficult.
- It would be better that you make groups of the topics according to their nature and then study them one at a time. But you must also keep revising them periodically. For example: you study the procedural laws first, and then move onto the core criminal subject like IPC, after that you could go to Hindu and Muslim law.
- Always refer to past year question papers and take coaching papers to practise.
- A unique method by which one can remember sections is to frame a question out of it. However, these questions would only be framed when you thoroughly understand the provisions of the section.
- You should practise writing and answering long questions that have been frequently asked. Refer to past year papers for this.
- Do not ignore the language paper. Practise adequately for it.
- Try to expand your vocabulary through reading newspaper columns, editorial pieces etc. This would also help you to write a good essay in the exam.
- Brush up on your general knowledge and constitutional and Indian history.
Mistakes to avoid while preparing
- The preparation for prelims and mains should go hand in hand. Focusing too much on theory , while ignoring MCQs is not a good approach.
- One must not become overconfident.
- One must not waste their time in procuring reading material. It often happens that the candidates take more time in procuring the material rather than actually studying from it.
- Do not ignore past year papers or leave them for the last moment.
- Do not leave the lengthy laws for the end.
- If you attend coaching, you should also make time for self study. The time spent in the coaching classes would go to waste if you do not revise it at home.
The time spent while preparing for the judicial services is a crucial one and if one utilises it effectively, then he can go into the exam confidently. Time management and consistency is key, but these things can only happen when you begin to believe in your dream and most importantly, believe in yourself.