Judicial Services Exams
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This article is written by Saumya Saxena, a third year student at Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article gives an overview of the Judicial Services Exam in India and discusses All India Judicial Services (AIJS) in detail. 

Brief History of All-India Judicial Services

Originally, the Constitution of India didn’t have any provision for the All-India Judicial Services (AIJS), but later Article 235 was introduced which said that the lower judiciary was subordinate to the High Court. In 1958, the Law Commission (1st, 8th and 11th, 116th) first mooted the idea to formulate an All-India Judicial Services (AIJS). The Chief Justices Conferences held in 1961, 1963 and 1965 encouraged the creation of an AIJS but the idea was opposed by some High Courts as it took away their powers of recruitment of lower judiciary. The state governments are responsible for the recruitment of the lower judiciary which is either done by the High Courts or the State Public Service Commissions.

In 1976, the Swaran Singh Committee gave its recommendations and according to that Article 312 (which dealt with the All India Services) was modified to include the judicial services except the ones below the rank of a district court judge.

With All-India Judicial Services, the recruitment of the District Court judges would become centralized as the candidates would be selected after clearing the all-India examination and then allotment would be done for each State. It is a matter of debate whether this method of recruitment will prove to be transparent and efficient in finding out the best talent in the legal field in India.

In 2012, the ruling UPA party forwarded the proposal again but it was rejected because of the opposition from the Chief Justices of the High Courts contending that it was a violation of their rights. 

Need for All-India Judicial Services

  • Huge vacancy of judges

At present, there are more than 5000 posts which are vacant in the lower judiciary across India.

  • Delay in recruitment

There are almost 3 crore cases pending in the lower judiciary and the primary reason for that is the delay in conducting the exams by the states.

  • Insufficient finances with the state governments

State judicial services do not attract the ‘best talent’ as the state governments fail to provide high salaries, rewards and compensation.

  • Shortage of quality judicial officers

There has been a continuous decline in the quality of delivery of justice which in turn affects the higher judiciary.

  • Discretion of a narrow body

The process of selection of a judge is a responsible job, it should not be left at the discretion of a small collegium no matter how judicious it is.

  • Subjectivity in the process 

Currently, the judicial appointments suffer subjectivity, corruption and nepotism on the part of the collegium. Hence, there is an urgent need to establish an impartial system of recruitment so as to reflect the social reality and diversity of the country.

Objections to All-India Judicial Services

  • Weakens separation of power

According to Article 235, the High Courts have the control over the state judiciary. If the responsibility of recruitment of state judiciary is shifted from High Courts to Union government through AIJS, then the independence of the judiciary would be undermined.

  • Problem of local language

The District Court and Sessions Court Judges communicate in the State language and it would be difficult for AIJS officers to adapt themselves with the local language and the dialects which in turn would affect the delivery of justice.

  • Problem of local laws

AIJS fails to take into account the issue of local laws and customs which varies widely across the country. Thus, the training expenses of the selected judges would increase.

  • Affects only the tip of the iceberg

AIJS does not address the problem of low pay and the lack of inadequate judicial infrastructure including the courts and the training centres for officers in the states. AIJS does not propose any changes for ensuring better representation of district court judges in the High Courts despite the fact that less than one-third of the seats in the High Courts are occupied by the district court judges.

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Benefits of All-India Judicial Services

  • Accountability and Transparency

AIJS will make the judiciary more professional, accountable and equitable.

  • Recruitment of the best talent

AIJS will ensure that the method of recruitment is transparent and efficient, so that the best talent in the legal profession is attracted. Also the possibility of promotion of the district court judges to the High Courts at an early stage would increase as they currently join the High Courts much later than the judges from the Bar.

  • Checks pendency of cases

Streamlined and objective recruitment process would ensure regular stream of good quality judicial officers for vacant posts, which would reduce pendency of cases.

  • Overall efficiency

A well-organized system of recruitment of the judicial officers will attract the young talent from the law schools and young, well-informed judicial officers at the level of additional district judge will make a difference. As the additional district judges and the district judges can help in making the judicial system work more efficiently.

Way Forward

  • AIJS will attract the capable judicial officers which in turn will lead to speedy disposal of cases, ensuring the right decisions which do not lend themselves to appeal and thereby reducing the number of appeals. The quality of lower judiciary is very crucial for rejuvenating the Indian judiciary.
  • AIJS is facing obstructions from the administration and the High Courts, even though the Supreme Court has emphasized on the establishment of AIJS twice. 
  • Therefore, AIJS should be formulated in such a manner that all the shortcomings are taken care of so that it proves to be effective.
  • Language should not be a barrier because if the civil servants can learn the local language of the state they are posted in, then the judicial officers can also do that.
  • The problem of pay scale and career growth should be looked after.
  • After the completion of the selection process, the judicial officers should be provided with good training to handle the job. A proficient judiciary is the need of the hour and it is possible only with a competitive recruitment process. 
  • Speedy disposal of cases is the concern of all the members of the society. This is possible only if there are adequate judges. Adequate judges can be made available only if the recruitment is done at large through AIJS just like the recruitment of IAS, IPS and other civil services. Hence, the AIJS should come into existence without any delay.

A Career in Judiciary

A career in the judiciary is a good option for law graduates who are inclined towards public service and have faith in the system of justice. The hierarchy of the judicial system in India is as follows- the Supreme Court at the top followed by the High Courts of each State, followed by the District Courts.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Judge

The judicial system consists of five hierarchies namely- Supreme Court, High Court, District Court, Magistrate Court and Munsiff Court. Judges are assigned to different court departments on the basis of their qualification. Some judges operate in their private offices, courtrooms and law libraries. Most of the work includes reading legal briefs, studying legal issues, conducting hearing with lawyers and giving the judgment.

The responsibility of the judges varies depending on their jurisdiction, the major responsibilities of a judge are:

  • Establishing laws and implementing rules of procedure.
  • Conducting hearings/trials in a fair manner and presiding over them.
  • Giving advice to the attorneys and litigants regarding issues and conduct related to the proceedings of a case.
  • Resolving issues between the attorneys.
  • Reading documents on motions and pleadings to ascertain facts and arguments.
  • Hearing the attorneys presenting their cases, plaintiffs making allegations and the witnesses.
  • Discovering the evidence provided by the defence and the prosecution.
  • Determining the evidence to find out if it confirms the charges.
  • Evaluating the evidence to decide whether the accused is guilty in the eyes of law.
  • In case of civil trials, judges decide the legitimacy of a petition and then estimate the charges and then grant order for compensation to the plaintiff accordingly.
  • In case of criminal trials, the judge determines whether to hold offenders in prison pending trial or set bail and other requirements for release.
  • In case the accused is convicted, the judge gives the sentence. The judge may impose a fine or send him to jail or both.

The Munsif/Sub-judges deal with civil cases, while the Magistrate deals with criminal cases. These officers can get promoted to District and Sessions Judge on the basis of their seniority and merit. Further, they can be promoted to the office of a Supreme Court judge or High Court judge.

Judicial Services Exam

Judicial Services Exam, popularly known as the PCS (J)-Provincial Civil Service-Judicial Exam are entry-level tests for law graduates to become a member of the subordinate judiciary. These exams are conducted by a state judicial department to hire for subordinate judicial services. These exams focus on Indian legal and constitutional governance and history, current developments of national and international interest, and analytical aptitude and skills of the candidate. Around 50,000 to 60,000 candidates appear for Judicial Services Examination every year with only 15-20% clearing the exam.

The candidates who wish to build a career in public service can clear the Judicial Services Exam and perform the following job roles:

  • Magistrate
  • District and Sessions Judge
  • Sub-Magistrate
  • Public Prosecutor
  • Attorney General
  • Solicitors
  • Advocate General
  • Notary
  • Oath Commissioner

Eligibility Criteria

Only Indian citizens are eligible to apply for the Judicial Services Exam.


Educational Qualifications



Lower Judiciary Services

A degree in LL.B and enrollment as an advocate under the Advocates Act, 1961.

No experience required. 

21 to 35 years.

Higher Judiciary Services

A degree in LL.B

A minimum of seven years of experience in litigation.

21 to 35 years.

Note- The age limit may vary from state to state and there is age relaxation for the candidates belonging to the reserved categories. 

Structure of the Judicial Services Exam

The Judicial Services Exam is conducted in the following three stages:

  • Preliminary Examination

It consists of objective type questions and serves as a screening test for the mains examination. The marks scored in the preliminary examination are not considered while preparing the final merit list. The minimum qualifying marks may vary from state to state.

  • Mains Examination

It is a subjective type examination. It consists of three to four papers. The marks scored in the mains examination are considered while preparing the final merit list. The minimum qualifying marks may vary from state to state. Candidates equal to three times the number of vacancies are called for the interview.

  • Viva-Voce/ Personal Interview

This is the final stage in which the candidate is evaluated on the basis of general knowledge, personality and other factors. This stage carries 50 marks out of which the candidate needs to secure a minimum of 20 marks to get selected.

States Conducting Judicial Services Exam

In India, 24 states conduct the Judicial Services Exam, each state has its own eligibility criteria, exam pattern and pay scale. The states conducting the exam are listed below:

Arunachal Pradesh






Himachal Pradesh


Jammu & Kashmir




Madhya Pradesh










Uttar Pradesh

West Bengal

Tips for Preparing for Judicial Services Exam

  • The first and the most important thing is to stay consistent and to make a plan for preparation which includes a well-planned timetable which must be followed with utmost sincerity.
  • There should be a different approach for the preparation of each stage. For example, the candidate is required to have exhaustive knowledge of the provisions of various laws for the preliminary examination, whereas the main examination requires a selective study pattern based on the frequently asked questions, it can be done by solving previous year questions.
  • Reading newspapers, law journals and reports presented by the Supreme Court and the High Courts will help in gaining legal general knowledge. Candidates can also take the help of recognised books and magazines for studying legal general knowledge.
  • Solving the previous years question papers of different states will help in developing time-management skills and understanding the exam pattern.
  • If you know a judicial officer who has recently been selected, seek their guidance, it can be very helpful for your preparation.



  1. Judicial Exam differs within states, syllabus more or less same but in few are of 20+ papers. In terms of eligibility how LL.M score can help to crack this exam. scored 72% with specialization in banking and corporate laws. My concern is there is any special area in judicial service where this particular area can be highlighted ? other than dealing with criminal or normal civil cases. What is the target score to crack judicial other than cut off marks?


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