Everything You Need to Know About Judicial Service Exams in India
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Everything You Need to Know About Judicial Service Exams in India

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Are you an aspiring lawyer looking to embark on a rewarding career in the judiciary? The Indian Judicial Service Examination, also known as the Provincial Civil Service Judicial Examination (PCS-J), is the gateway to entering the prestigious world of the judiciary in India. This entry-level exam for law graduates opens up opportunities to become district magistrates, additional district magistrates, or district court judges.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about Judicial Service Exams in India, from the states conducting these exams to the eligibility criteria, application process, and syllabus. Let's dive in and unravel the intricacies of this esteemed examination.

States Conducting Judicial Service Examination

Judicial Service Exams in India are conducted by different states, each with its own unique procedures and eligibility criteria. Currently, 24 states in India conduct Judicial Service Examinations almost every year. These states include Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Punjab, Assam, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Bihar, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Manipur, Odisha, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Each state has its own set of eligibility criteria, such as age limits, number of attempts, proficiency in the official language, and more. It's important to thoroughly research the specific requirements of the state in which you wish to appear for the Judicial Service Examination.

Judicial Exam Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for Judicial Service Exams in India vary depending on whether you are aiming for the lower judiciary or higher judiciary services.

Lower Judiciary Services: To be eligible for the Judicial Services Examination for the lower judiciary, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a citizen of India
  2. Should have a degree in either 3-year LLB or 5-year LLB
  3. Must be enrolled or qualified to be enrolled as an Advocate under the Advocates’ Act 1961
  4. Final year candidates are also eligible to apply, and no prior experience is required for the exam
  5. The age limit usually falls between 21 to 35 years, but it may vary according to the state

Higher Judiciary Services: For the higher judiciary services, candidates must be law graduates and have a minimum number of years of litigating practice, typically seven years.

It's crucial to carefully review the eligibility criteria specific to the state in which you plan to appear for the Judicial Service Exam to ensure you meet all the requirements.

Application Process for Judicial Service Exams

The application process for Judicial Service Exams varies from state to state. Each state releases its own application forms, and candidates must stay updated on the notifications and deadlines for each state's examination.

In some states, such as Haryana, the application forms are released on the official website of the respective High Court. On the other hand, states like Maharashtra release their application forms through the state public service commission's website.

After filling out the application form, candidates are required to pay a prescribed fee, which varies for general and reserved categories. It is essential to carefully follow the instructions provided by the conducting authority to ensure a smooth application process.

Stages of Judicial Services Examination

The Judicial Services Examination consists of three stages that aspiring civil judges, district magistrates, and additional district magistrates must clear. Let's take a closer look at each stage:

1. Judicial Services Examination - Preliminary: The preliminary exam serves as a screening test, comprising objective-type questions. The marks obtained in this stage are not considered for the final selection. The focus is to filter candidates before they proceed to the next stage.

2. Judicial Services Examination - Mains: The mains exams are conducted after a certain period following the declaration of the preliminary results. The Judicial Services Mains exams are subjective in nature, covering various legal areas. The marks obtained in the mains examination are considered for the final selection.

3. Judicial Services Examination Interview: The final stage of the selection process is the interview, also known as the viva-voce. In this stage, candidates are assessed based on their general interest, intelligence, personality, and other relevant factors. The interview plays a crucial role in determining the final selection of candidates.

Candidates who successfully clear all three stages and qualify for the merit list are then eligible to join the respective state's judicial academy for a year of training as a Judge. Upon completion of the training, candidates are appointed as judges of lower courts or tribunals.

Syllabus for Judicial Services Examination

The syllabus for the Judicial Services Examination varies from state to state. While the procedural law and substantive laws are similar across all states, the local language and local laws may differ. It is important to note that the preliminary examination syllabus is generally divided into Civil law, Criminal Law, and Language paper. The mains examination consists of six to seven papers, with a significant focus on law-related topics.

Here is an overview of the syllabus for the preliminary examination:

  1. Constitutional Law
  2. Contract Law and Tort Law
  3. General Knowledge and Current Affairs
  4. IPC, CPC, CrPC, and The Indian Evidence Act
  5. Proficiency in English Language and Aptitude
  6. Transfer of Property Law
  7. General Knowledge (including topics like Communications and Space, Current National Issues, Geography of India, History of India, Indian Culture, Indian Economy, Indian Polity, International Affairs and Institutions, Science and Technology, etc.)

The syllabus may vary for specific states, with additional subjects being included based on local laws and regulations. It is recommended to refer to the official notification and syllabus provided by the conducting authority for the most accurate and updated information.

Challenges and Vacancies in the Judiciary

One of the major challenges faced in the recruitment process for the judiciary is the significant number of vacancies across the country. According to a recent answer in the Rajya Sabha, there are approximately 5,388 vacancies out of 25,246 sanctioned posts in district and subordinate courts nationwide. The increasing number of vacancies hampers the efficiency of the judiciary and contributes to the pendency of cases in lower courts.

The irregular conduct of exams and delayed result announcements further exacerbate the challenges faced by aspiring judicial officers. Many states have a long gap of 3-4 years between conducting the exams, causing frustration and uncertainty among candidates. In some cases, the entire selection process takes more than a year to conclude, leading to a waste of valuable time for aspirants.

Furthermore, the lack of a dedicated portal or committee to address grievances adds to the difficulties faced by candidates during the examination process. The absence of a streamlined mechanism for redressal often forces candidates to resort to filing Right to Information (RTI) requests or approaching the courts for resolution.

Supreme Court Intervention and Reforms

Recognizing the need for reforms and addressing the challenges faced in the judiciary recruitment process, the Supreme Court of India has intervened on several occasions. In the case of Malik Mazhar v. Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission, the court emphasized the importance of conducting examinations within a predetermined timeframe to ensure an efficient and transparent recruitment process. The court also stressed the need for an appropriate zone of consideration for shortlisting candidates at each stage of the examination.

Despite the court's interventions, vacancies continue to persist, and a unified nationwide recruitment policy is yet to be implemented. However, the judiciary's commitment to filling vacancies and streamlining the recruitment process remains evident.


The journey to becoming a judge in the Indian judiciary is a challenging yet rewarding one. By understanding the nuances of the Judicial Service Exams, aspiring candidates can navigate the process more effectively. It is crucial to stay updated with the notifications and guidelines provided by the conducting authorities and thoroughly prepare for each stage of the examination.

If you are considering a career in the judiciary, Legalstix Law School is here to support you every step of the way. Our experienced faculty members provide comprehensive coaching and guidance to help you excel in the Judicial Service Exams. Join us for demo lectures every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am to experience our unique approach to exam preparation.

Remember, the judiciary plays a crucial role in upholding justice and maintaining the rule of law. By pursuing a career in the judiciary, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on society. Start your journey today and become a part of India's esteemed judicial system.


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