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Aspiring Delhi judges investigate, find out 4 suspicious things about the dodgy Delhi Judicial Service (DJS) exam

DJS detectives
DJS detectives

Candidates for the controversial 2014 Delhi Judicial Service (DJS) exam have painstakingly cross-referenced lists of judges’ offspring and others close to Delhi high court judges, received a surprising RTI response, and established that 64 judges who had passed or topped judicial services exams in other states, failed in last year's DJS exam outright.

After long delays in publication of results, the Delhi Judicial Service examinations had continued attracting controversy when only 15 candidates were shortlisted despite 80 listed vacancies, as reported by Legally India after the October 2014 results were announced in May.

Out of the 15 shortlisted candidates, two were children of sitting judges of the Delhi high court, while two were former research assistants of one Delhi high court judge, according to several candidates’ research.

While it was possible that this could simply be explained by judges’ children being better-versed in law and previous exams, admitted one candidate, he said that it was just one of several serious question marks hovering over the results.

On 14 May, advocate Prashant Bhushan wrote a four-page letter to the Delhi high court questioning the results (click here to read), concluding with:

This kind of selection process will further demotivate several other meritorious students of good law schools from choosing judicial services as their career option. The students with good academic records would never appear in the exams having such unreasonable selection method and especially when they are not taking place at regular intervals.

On 18 June, Union law minister Sadananda Gowda wrote a letter to the chief justice of the Delhi high court, claiming that he had heard allegations of “corruption, favouritism and nepotism” in the DJS exam.

Anonymity not guaranteed?

One Delhi Judicial Service examination candidate who inspected their answer sheet told Legally India that their roll number, name and signature were still on the answer sheet when they examined it, implying that the anonymity of candidates was not maintained in the examining process.

The candidate, who did not wish to be named, was one of the top ten rank holders in the prelims examination, but did not even get passing marks in the mains paper.

After the results were announced last month, several candidates had asked to inspect their answer sheet by filing an RTI and were subsequently shown a photocopy of their checked answer sheet in the high court premises.

The candidate who wished to remain anonymous said that in almost all papers the long form answers were awarded unbelievably low marks. An English essay was marked 3 out of 40 while two long form legal application-section answers received marks of 0 out of 40.

“It is nearly impossible to get zero in a long descriptive answer. And I had written the exact judgment, the names of the judges, the citations, everything. There was no underlining by the examiner, no indications or marking or remarks, just a zero after five pages of my answer. And I distinctly remember that my roll number, name and signature were present on every answer sheet.”


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Click to enlarge pages 2-4 of candidates who failed the DJS but passed other judicial services exams

Judicial exam successes elsewhere did not translate to Delhi 64 times

DJS aspirants have also compiled a list of 64 candidates who had qualified the judiciary examination in 11 other states that most recently held judicial exams, but who did not obtain the qualifying marks in the Delhi exam.

This includes 10 candidates who had obtained the first or second rank in states like Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan, as well as three candidates who had qualified to become judges in more than one state.

The list was compiled by cross-referencing the names of candidates who has appeared in the DJS mains exam with list of successful candidates from the judiciary exams of 11 states: Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

In all, the list shows 64 candidates from 11 different states who had qualified to become judges but could not obtain even the passing marks in the DJS exam. The list does not include any names from the reserved category, said the DJS aspirants who compiled the data.

One of the candidates who helped to compile this list said on condition of anonymity: “We are not saying people who qualified in other states would necessarily qualify in Delhi. But what the mains result shows is that 64 qualified judges from 11 different states did not even get the minimum passing marks in the DJS exam. That is highly unlikely.”

The DJS mains exam consists of 4 papers, and the minimum qualifying criterion is to obtain 40% marks in all the papers separately, and 50% cumulatively.

The general trend in all states is that a huge number of candidates obtain the minimum qualifying marks, and out of those the top few are shortlisted for the interview in order of merit. Usually, the number of shortlisted candidates is three times the number of vacancies advertised.

In this year’s DJS mains, only 15 candidates obtained the minimum qualifying marks out of the 659 who had appeared after qualifying for the prelims, and for some candidates that low number is in itself a cause for suspicion, though it could in theory be explained by other factors such as higher exam standards.

If there were any standards.

RTI response

In response to a Right to Information (RTI) application, the Delhi high court admitted that there was neither any fixed criterion for the marking/checking of the answers, nor any model answers prepared for any of the four papers of the DJS mains exam (see below).

RTI response by Delhi high court: No model answers exist
RTI response by Delhi high court: No model answers exist

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