Harshit Sharma (NLUJ Batch of 2019) is a trainee Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate, First Class at Rajasthan Judicial Services. He is also a doctoral candidate PhD at NLU Jodhpur, who cleared UGC NET in December 2019.
He has been interviewed by Nisha Gupta, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing her law from NLU Jodhpur.
- Before I begin, the team at EBC-SCC Online extends warm greetings and welcomes you. It is indeed a privilege for me to interview you on behalf of the team for our readers. Before proceeding further with the interview, would you please take a moment to tell our readers about yourself?
First of all, I want to thank Nisha Gupta and EBC-SCC team for selecting me for this interview. It is a dream of every law student to feature at least once on SCC.
I completed my schooling from different Kendriya Vidyalayas across the State of Rajasthan owing to my father’s frequent transfers. In my school days, I was primarily inclined towards cricket. During this time, I represented the district and State cricket teams at under 14, 16, and 19 levels. Along with this, I had also played KVS nationals. So briefly, I was a kid who was studying just for the purpose of passing the exams.
A major shift in my academics came when I opted for humanities in my senior secondary. Initially, the purpose was to save time so that I could devote more hours to practising cricket. But with time I developed interest in the humanities subjects. To everyone’s surprise, (except my mother) I topped my region with 93.8 % in CBSE Senior Secondary Exams, 2013. After the result, I was determined to join Delhi University. But someone told my father about National Law Universities (NLUs). At that time we were in Jodhpur, so we came to know about NLU Jodhpur and its excellent academic and sports history. Apart from the stature of NLUs, the chief reason that convinced me to go for CLAT UG was the hope of securing admission into NLU Jodhpur so that I can be close to my mother.
For preparing for CLAT, I took a year’s drop. This drop served me a good opportunity of continuing cricket at a professional level. So, till the end of December 2013, I bunked the majority of coaching classes just to practise cricket more. Finally, by the end of December, I started my preparation seriously. The result was favourable to me and I got NLU Jodhpur in the first list. In July 2014 my journey in the field of law started. Meanwhile, I kept playing cricket at professional level and after participating in Rajasthan Colvin Shield Tournament I went for Ranji Trials.
- As a large percentage of our readers are currently students of law, would you please tell us about your law school life and what inspired you to pursue law?
As I already mentioned that my chief reason to pursue law was to being close to my mother by securing a rank in NLU Jodhpur. So initially there was no such gut feeling that field of law is ideal for me.
It took me around six months to get accustomed to the cosmopolitan environment in NLU Jodhpur. But as time passed, my seniors helped me a lot to familiarise myself with the nuances of the law and how to balance life so that I can manage sports and fitness along with academics. I am very grateful to my seniors who helped me accomplish whatever I wanted and equally grateful to my juniors who motivated me to give my best. My journey at NLU Jodhpur is a very wonderful one, and I cherish my memories a lot.
The initial days at the college were very difficult, but I got accustomed to that environment and made a lot of friends as time passed. A good institution teaches you to develop a wholesome personality and work-life balance. Every day you need to cope up with the pressure; you need to complete the assignment within the given deadline. This is the beauty of a good college which not only imparts knowledge but also imparts essential qualities that are very necessary for your professional career, especially as you grow on the professional ladder.
I have always been a person who is heavily oriented towards sports and fitness. During my five years at NLU Jodhpur, I devoted the majority of my time towards playing sports and developing my fitness. Even in my internship breaks, I devoted hours and hours to sports just to excel at a professional level. In my last two years at college, I even captained the badminton team and won several laurels for the university. I was equally devoted towards cricket and remained Vice Captain from day one to the last day.
Moving our talk towards the academic side, I opted for Criminal Law (Hons.), in my fourth year. I completed college with an aggregate CGPA of 7.8 (2014-2019). In short, I am a law, sports, and fitness enthusiast.
- You are currently a trainee Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate, First Class at the Rajasthan Judicial Services, and you also achieved AIR 68 in the Delhi Judicial Services (2020). With these remarkable results, what would be your advice to those who are eyeing the State Judicial Services?
If you want to succeed in competitive exams, then you need to be very disciplined, regular and patient in your approach. These are the qualities that are required from a Judge and something that will help you to clear any exam which you target. Also, there is a need to refrain from using any kind of social media during the preparation phase. I deliberately kept with myself a very normal keypad phone so that I could devote most of the productive hours to my studies and simultaneously focus on my fitness and sports-related activities. The major problem is that our generation wastes a lot of time using social media. My humble advice to all of you is that, stop yourself from using social media for a year or two; believe me, when you come back, you will have a lot more followers than you expect.
My mode of preparation for these exams was self-study. Although self-study takes a good amount of time to understand the concepts compared to getting spoon-fed in the coaching institutions, but I think it helps you in the longer run because when you try to solve everything by yourself, your mind develops a habit to work a lot. But it differs from person to person whether he/she wants to prepare by doing self-study or want to join some coaching institution.
I started with reading Bare Acts of major laws and simultaneously read standard commentaries on the subject. Multiple revisions are the key to understand and remember this vast course. Once you have covered all the major subjects, you can shift your attention towards the minor subjects and local laws.
For prelims, you should try to solve as many multiple-choice questions as possible and once you clear prelims, you can make a specific strategy for mains. The strategy involves going through the past year papers, understanding the exam pattern, and trying to develop the answer writing habit. You will realise the value of good content and standard commentaries at this stage because if you have good content in your mind, you will not encounter problem while taking down that content on paper. After covering the course thoroughly, you can join some mock test series and give as many mocks as possible. This will help you to develop answer writing habit, and your mentor can focus on your weaker areas where you need to work. Every person has his own rules for success, and I hope during this journey you will also be able to find your own ways.
- Not only that, but you are also a doctoral candidate PhD at NLU Jodhpur, where you also did your undergraduate degree. You got AIR 15 in CLAT PG 2019 and then AIR 23 in CLAT PG 2020. Clearly you have some great tricks and tips up your sleeves for this highly competitive entrance test. Would you please share some with our readers?
There is no shortcut to prepare for CLAT PG. This exam tests your hard-earned knowledge of five years. No single book can be a substitute for what you have studied throughout this long duration of five years. So, from day one in college, I focused on core law subjects like Constitution, CrPC, CPC, IPC, contracts, evidence, family and property law, etc. In the fifth year especially in my last semester, I started to cover subjects specifically asked in CLAT PG. The majority of core law subjects were already covered in five years. What I did at this stage is that I started to prepare minor subjects (those having less weightage in CLAT like IPR, labour, tax, arbitration, company, etc.) along with revising the major subjects. Take sufficient margin of time so that you can revise the whole course at least twice.
Once you have completed the theory part you need to practise a lot of MCQs. You cannot afford to leave MCQ practice. They test your understanding as well as memory. Many times they show you how to pick the most suitable option out of the four. So, practise them a lot. Practise past years of CLAT and other LLM entrance like AILET, DU, ILI, etc. I devoted roughly around 6-8 hours of study to prepare every day. During the most productive hours I used to study theory and whenever I felt like sleeping, I simply practised MCQs. Based on this strategy I secured AIR 15 in CLAT PG 2019.
Since CLAT Consortium changed the pattern of the exam, I gave CLAT PG 2020 to test myself on the new pattern. I secured AIR 23 in CLAT PG 2020. The major difference that I found in the 2019 and 2020 CLAT PG examinations was the kind of questions asked and their uncertainty. Until 2019 they had a very predictable pattern in which they focused on the major areas of the laws, and the paper had two essay type questions as well.
According to me the paper pattern till 2019 was much easier. But in 2020, they made large scale changes in the pattern and started asking questions based on contemporary legal events. As of today, if you want to score a good rank in the CLAT PG examination, you need to be very much aware of the contemporary legal events, and that means not only what is going in the current scenario, but you should also be aware of the past of that particular topic, as well as the chain of events that is related to the topic. If possible, try to find out the major case laws related to that particular topic.
Now the strategy is to do a holistic study. For that, first, you need to cover the static part (that is, you need to be aware of the basic static concept), and then you need to make a building that consists of the contemporary developments surrounding that particular topic. For example, if we take the right to privacy, we need to start our study right from the 1950s when the first case related to privacy came before the Supreme Court and the subsequent cases till present. By studying in such a way, you will be able to learn everything related to a particular topic i.e. what was the stand of the court earlier, and the current position.
To help the aspirants in clearing the competitive law exams and to make them understand the new pattern of CLAT PG, I authored a book, that I released free of cost in PDF format – Harshit Sharma’s Legal Digest on Contemporary Legal Events.
- Anyone who had the pleasure of seeing you through law school would know that you were always up to something, especially leading NLUJ’s cricket and badminton team while acing all of your academic commitments. What are your thoughts on maintain a work-life balance through law school and in your professional life?
For me, fitness and sports are always the first priority. I always try to develop my lifestyle so that I should be able to give around 50-60% of my time for sports and fitness-related activity, which is something I am doing right from my school days. So balancing academics and sports life was not a big task for me, but it becomes very hectic to manage both these things on some days. To cope with such situations is something I learnt at the college level. But I believe that sports and fitness are part of my lifestyle, and I cannot live without them, so every time I make my schedule, I try to ensure that these activities get enough amount of time.
My typical schedule at NLU Jodhpur involved waking up right at 6 in the morning and stretching till 2 in the night. In this duration, I did my fitness-related activities. I then somehow managed to go to classes, studying there and then again coming back to the hostel room and going to the sports complex to prepare for the game (badminton and cricket). After all this, I tried to ensure that I should read at least some important topics from commentaries.
The main thing sports and fitness teaches you is having a strong will and patience to navigate difficult times. I think these are some intrinsic qualities that are required to clear any competitive exam. Although sports and fitness do not directly impact success in competitive exams, they do play an indirect role. Even in my professional life I am maintaining roughly the same kind of schedule i.e. exercising before going to the court and exercising after coming back from the court. If I do exercises, I feel so active and energetic throughout the day with a high level of concentration in the court. So, I am going to continue this forever because it helps me both physically and mentally a lot.
- It is safe to say that you are a very ambitious man. With your fingers already in so many pies, what would you say the future holds for you? What are you looking forward to next as a young professional?
Right now, I am living my dream; to be on the Bench. This is something I always wanted right from my college days. Apart from this, I cleared UGC NET in December 2019. So, I am eligible for Assistant Professorship as well. Clearing NET and my habit of regularly writing articles helped me to crack NLU Jodhpur’s prestigious PhD entrance test as well. As of now my aim is to learn as much as I can in court, so that I can impart justice and help people in a better manner. Moreover, my PhD will also be running simultaneously along with my judicial duties. So, during this hectic phase I will again be challenged to maintain my work-life balance.
- Keeping in mind your academic and professional background, what are your views on the concept of “exhaustion of a search”?
In my law career up until now, I have realised that there is no end of research. The more you go through different sources the more you will come to know about it. Every quality source gives us a different perspective and understanding of a particular topic. The field of law is an ocean, where everything is available. What we have to do is to keep on researching. And when I talk about research, I refer to quality sources of doing research which regularly update their database and keep a check on the information that they provide by doing multiple review processes, such as SCC Online. So the law students should remove this word “exhaustion” from their dictionaries when they decide to go for research, especially on the areas of law which are still uncertain and not clear. As far as settled position of law is concerned the research comes to an end when we are able to find an authority of Supreme Court on the point. So, the concept of exhaustion of search varies from topic to topic. Grey areas of law always demand unending search and a law student should be ready to dive deep into the ocean of law.
- Lastly, with the ever-changing world around us – which is now more unstable than ever – what would be your advice to young lawyers to help them achieve their goals with the same drive as you do?
Young students and aspirants, I want to say that you should enjoy your college because these are the days where you will make memories and learn lot of new things every day. Everything has a set time. Do not try to rush things. Before choosing any field you should explore, you should intern under different organisations and different advocates. Then only you will be able to make an informed choice. Refrain yourself from using social media and use this time to develop some new hobby or if you already have some hobby, try to pursue it regularly. Clearing competitive exams takes a lot of time and effort. It is a long cycle, and you need to have a mental balance, and mental balance comes only when you are physically healthy. Apart from knowledge, I think that intrinsic motivation helps you to achieve your desired goals. Motivation is something that helped me a lot to clear each and every exam in which I appeared. But if you are in rhythm, continuously studying, and in touch with academics, then there is no stopping you. In the end, I just want to say that make your own path, do not try to copy others. You will also be having your own rules for success. Have faith and confidence in your abilities.