Drishti Judiciary : Higher Judiciary
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Higher Judicial Services

  • To those who have an inclination towards public services, judicial services can be a noteworthy choice.
  • It is a coveted job among law graduates as by cracking the judicial services examination one can directly become a Judge.
  • A Law Graduate can opt for a prestigious career in Judicial Services through state level competitive examinations.
  • Two avenues that unfold for a Law Graduate in Judicial Field are -
    1. Subordinate Judiciary Examination - It is an entry Level Examination to the Subordinate Judiciary where one can join as Civil Judge directly after graduation.
    2. Higher Judiciary Examination – This is an entry Level Examination for the Higher Judicial Services. One can apply for this examination after completing a minimum of 7 years of legal practice and join as an Additional District Judge / Additional Session Judge. When the selected candidate works in the Criminal side he is termed as an Additional Session Judge whereas if one works in the Civil Side the nomenclature of the post attached is Additional District Judge.

Judicial Service can be a rewarding career choice in terms of satisfaction as one works directly for the upliftment of public/society and remains in close association with Law throughout one's career.

Why Choose Higher Judicial Services as a Career?
  • Entry Level Judicial Examinations serve as a gateway to being at the core of judicial system in India.
  • Almost all cases, whether Criminal or Civil, are tried by either the Lower Courts or by the District/Session Courts, barring a few exceptions.
  • This method of direct recruitment from the bar gives one an opportunity to dispense justice at the grass-root level.
  • An appointment to the post of Additional District Judge significantly increases one’s chances of becoming a High Court Judge.

About the Examination Process

In order to get selected as a Higher Judicial Services Officer one has to compete through a three-step examination process. This being a State Level Examination is conducted by the State High Court. The Examination Consists of 3 stages namely:

  1. Preliminary Examination (Objective Type)
  2. Mains Examination (Subjective Type)
  3. Interview


The qualifications to participate in the direct recruitment process are as follows:

  • Candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • Candidate must have been continuously practicing as an advocate for not less than seven years as on the last date mentioned in the respective notification. Some states require proof of candidate’s independent engagement and conducting of not less than a specific number of cases (other than bunch cases) per year in the preceding three years.
  • Age : Candidate must have attained the age of 35 years and must not have attained the age of 45 years. Age relaxation is provided for various categories (SC/ST/OBC/EWS/PwD etc .) which varies from state to state.

Plan of Examination

The syllabus for the Higher Judicial Services examination varies from state-to-state although core subjects like Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure Code, Indian Contract Act, Indian Evidence Act, Limitation Act, Constitution of India, Specific Relief Act form part of syllabus of almost all states. The stage wise bifurcation is as follows:

  • This stage consists of multiple-choice questions based Preliminary Examination. The majority of the States have a single Objective Type Paper Consisting of Law, General Awareness. Some states even include language-based questions.
  • The primary focus is on factual information based on bare provisions, amendments, case laws, maxims etc.


Key to crack preliminary examination involves exhaustive study on following:

  • Bare Act Provisions and the respective amendments if any.
  • Brief idea about Landmark/Recent Case Laws.
  • Analysis of key concepts.
  • Where General Knowledge forms part of the syllabus one must pay attention to the topics included in the examination notification.
  • One must practice previous year question papers.

  • This stage consists of a written examination called the Mains Examination.
  • The basic idea of this stage is to check the in-depth knowledge of the candidate.
  • The number of papers under this stage vary from state to state but broad categorization can be made as follows:
    • Criminal Law
    • Civil Law
    • Local Laws of the state
    • General Knowledge / General Awareness (In some Specific States)
    • Language


The mains examination focuses on one’s understanding of the subject and questions aim to check factual as well as practical knowledge of a person. The key to crack mains examination lies in sound answer writing skills. One needs to practice questions in order to write short, concise answers withing the time limit. Focus must be on:

  • Understanding the law and its bare provisions. Reading ‘To The Point’ material on various topics would not only help in thorough understanding but also in timely revision.
  • Case Laws are an inseparable part of a good answer, and one must read ‘Case Briefs’ on Landmark, Recent Judgements.
  • Revising key concepts before examinations would help in better retention of subject matter.
  • For the Language Part, Legal Translation is as important as Grammar or Essay Writing. Practice is the key here and one must try to improve legal vocabulary. Referring to a ‘Legal Glossary’ can play a pivotal role in this regard.
  • One must practice previous year question papers.

  • The final stage of the recruitment process is the interview, also known as the Viva-Voce.
  • It aims to assess the general suitability of the candidate for the post.
  • Some states attach a specified qualifying percentage to this stage in order to get selected.
  • The Interview Board consists of hon'ble’ High Court judges of the respective state.

  • Interview is one such part where it is difficult to frame a go to strategy.
  • One must focus on the subject knowledge as well as other aspec ts of his/her personality in order to be suitable for the post they have applied for.