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Delhi University dominates Delhi Judicial Services batch of 2013; Nalsar grad comes second

Small gavel, big change
Small gavel, big change

Five out of ten Delhi Judicial Service (DJS) exam 2011 toppers collecting their appointment letters at the Delhi high court today are Delhi University (DU) law graduates.

23 general category candidates appointed today will proceed to undertake one year of classroom and practical training with the Delhi judiciary, including assisting judges and going on jail visits. They will join as civil judges next year.

The exam showed less than a 1 per cent success rate with 70 people making it to the final merit list released on 13 February 2013, out of 7250 total candidates who appeared for the preliminary exam on 18 December 2011.

“The course [structure at Delhi University] coincides [with the DJS’ syllabus],” noted DU 2010 graduate Preeti Agarwala who obtained the fourth rank in the final merit list.

The others from DU who made it to the top ten were third ranker Deepti Sinha also a 2010 graduate, Neha Gupta a 2009 graduate who obtained rank five, rank nine Rajat Goyal who graduated in 2010 and rank ten Sonam Singh.

Jamia Milia Islamia 2011 graduate Bharat Chugh topped the exam, while Nalsar 2011 graduates Sadhika Jalan and Prayank Nayak came second and eighth, respectively. Tanvi Khurana who graduated from Amity Delhi in 2010 obtained the sixth rank and Amrita Tonk from Army Law Institute Mohali was rank seven.

The preliminary exam was a 200 mark question paper with 25 per cent negative marking. It had 200 objective type questions divided into 50 questions on static, current and legal general knowledge, 70 memory-based law questions, 45 questions on English language and comprehension, five on logic, and 30 application-based legal questions, in no particular order.

The result of the preliminary exam was rescinded and declared again for 6974 candidates who did not make the cut-off for the main exam in the first list. The candidates had petitioned the Delhi high court to get the cut-off marks revised to 112.8 for the general category, and get their answer sheets re-evaluated.

Most DJS toppers, including Chugh, declined to comment on the exam citing the “nature of [their] job” as restricting them from speaking to the press. Jalan, however, helped Legally India with some insight into the DJS scene this year.

Why did you choose to appear for the DJS?

My dad is a civil servant so I thought I’ll go on the same track. I always knew what not to do: joining the corporate sector. More than that I never knew I would be taking the judiciary exam. But because of my dad it was inbuilt in me that I had to give back to society, somewhere that had to happen.

I had started preparing for the civil services. I was taking The UPSC public administration paper coaching and a month before the DJS prelims that ended. Then it occurred to me that I should use what I’ve studied in life – I’ve studied law! I like the subject. It has that service component also, so I can do both things law and public service.

Honestly, I hadn’t been studying for the DJS at all. I started studying a month before the prelims. I thought if I am supposed to be a judge then I’ll clear the exam.

How does one go about preparing in as little time as you had?

Basically you know for me, everybody tells you that read the bare acts very carefully. So I read mostly from the bare acts since I knew they anyway won’t be asking questions conceptually and also because I had less time. You should also go through as many objective question books as you can and keep doing it. You will start associating with the answers the mind is trained to do that. Then for General Studies, read newspapers, two to three month old chronicles, and hopefully that will get you through.

And what should be the strategy for cracking the mains and the interview?

I was way out of my depth here. 14 subjects had to be done in 2 months. I suggest, pick one book for each subject. Figure that this is the one book you’re going to be using. I have a problem - I have to make notes as I study, which is not a good thing because you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. But I think that helped me when the papers shifted to June. I could easily revise my notes. It becomes very easy when you make concise notes of two to three pages.

Also make separate case lists. A lot of people tell me that they don’t bother learning cases. But in the morning I used to get up and revise my cases.

Constantly revise a given topic. That actually is the only way you can retain it in your head. I don’t think I remember most things I studied any more. Law can get stuck only like that.

The interview is really easy. I had a very CV-based interview. Some people have very law-based interviews, but I had a very basic interview. Otherwise people get asked, for instance, if we pass a judgment like this what would you do, what should be your reaction!

Do you think the current selection process and paper patterns are fit enough to get the best candidates into India’s judiciary?

I never thought I would be getting rank 2 and that was not even something I was aiming for. I just had to be on the list. But when I look at my batch now and the interaction I’ve had, its really great. So whatever the process, everybody seems like they’ve really been studying for it. It’s the same law school crowd that I’ve been used to.

Is there any one thing you intend on doing once you are in the system next year?

I believe in efficiency. Maybe you can’t make a big change but if everybody is efficient at their own level, if you can make your own unit very, very efficient I think there is no better service you can do. To not have complaints, to not delay your cases further, to make that change which sounds small is the most important thing a person can do.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that all of the 70 candidates in the final merit list were appointed.

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