Ms Vaneet Kaur Sokhi has cleared the recently concluded Haryana Judicial Services Examination while teaching as an Assistant Professor at Dr B.R. Ambedkar National Law University (DBRANLU). She did her graduation (BA LLB) from University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) Panjab University, holds a specialisation in criminal law as she did her LLM in Criminal Law from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Patiala, and PG diploma in Forensic Science and Criminal Law from National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) Hyderabad, and has currently enrolled herself in PhD program in Green Criminology.
1. How did your journey in the legal field start?
To be very honest, till Class 10th I never thought of being a legal graduate person someday but since childhood, I wanted to be an officer, and when I got admitted into Class 11th and opted for humanities and had a basic plan of doing IAS, and to pursue that the strongest option which appeared in front of me was law. Also, I would not say career options today are meagre or very bleak, but I thought of having a professional degree as it would be a cushion in case I could not make it to the IAS, along with this political science and history became my favourite subject in Class 11th and 12th. Thereby I opted for law and gave Punjab University Common Entrance Test (PUCET) in 2014 and enrolled myself in the BA LLB program at UILS, Panjab University.
2. Why did you choose law as a career?
Choosing a career is not a spontaneous process, rather I would say it is a gradual process, you tend to develop an interest in a particular domain. In my case, law was not the primary target rather it was just a step in achieving my goal of being an officer and appearing for UPSC, but while pursuing my BA LLB, in my third year, after studying family and criminal law I developed a keen interest in this field, and that motivated me not to switch the career, and thereafter I thought that I can fulfil my passion by being a judicial officer and appeared for the judicial services examination.
UILS, Panjab University is one of the most happening places. I was already studying in Chandigarh before enrolling in UILS, but UILS provided great exposure to a multidisciplinary university. It was a very new kind of experience. The first year was spent in the canteen, chattering and doing nothing, which showed a great effect on my academic result. So future semesters were spent studying along with co-curricular activities. I participated in various moot courts and trial advocacy competitions, also I wanted to enjoy my college life so I did a lot of extra-curricular activities too. I participated in painting, sports, and dance competitions, also, I remember a very interesting event. I wanted to participate in youth fest but the team for gidha was already formed. I was so eager to participate that I gave my audition for haryanvi group dance and participated in that. So, UILS provided good exposure in every aspect, and I enjoyed it. Every part of UILS will remain very close to me.
4. What were the courses you pursued while preparing for the exam and what was your motivation for enrolling in these courses?
As I have already mentioned, I did BA LLB from UILS, Panjab University thereafter I pursued LLM in Criminal Law, from RGNUL. I opted for specialisation in criminal law because these subjects overlap with the syllabus of the judicial services examination and they always kept me in contact with the preparation and I never lost touch with the basic course for the examination, thereafter I enrolled myself in PG diploma course in Forensic Science and Criminal Law from NALSAR, Hyderabad which helped me in my mains exams. Moreover, while teaching at DBRANLU, I enrolled myself in a PhD program in Green Criminology. The constant motivation to enroll in these courses was to increase my knowledge in a specific domain. Also, these courses kept me in constant touch with my preparation.
5. Will you recommend these courses for aspirants preparing for judicial exams?
Surely, I will recommend these courses, as each of these courses in itself holds a lot of merit. Moreover, as I mentioned earlier these are refreshing courses, and each of them will keep you in constant touch with your preparation. These courses provide you with a different perspective and in-depth knowledge of subjects or pertaining to a particular topic that will actually help you in different stages of the examination. These different perspectives to present your answer will fetch you marks. In my case, the subject of my PhD helped me in my interview and while writing answers in the mains examination.
6. Usually, judiciary aspirants tend to ignore the extra-curricular activities while in law school and focus merely on the exam preparation, but you constantly took part in various moot courts and other allied competitions and were part of the moot court society at your university, how do you look at this aspect of law school along with judiciary preparation?
In life and specifically in our profession, what is important for us is the development of personality and character and these extra-curricular activities tend to develop your aptitude, research, and oratory skills. Moreover, in cumulative it will develop your personality and build your character and make you inquisitorial. And each of these skills will help you in different stages of the examination.
7. How did you shape your preparation strategy for the judicial services exam, while working as an Assistant Professor?
First of all, the strategy for every aspirant is different and cannot be generalised as the situation for each aspirant is different hence these strategies are very much personal. I prepared for all three stages while teaching at Dr B.R. Ambedkar National Law University. I used to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I used to start studying at 5.30 p.m., as I mentioned while pursuing my LLM my major subjects were covered, but to brush up my subjects I joined a crash course, so I used to attend those classes and then take a break at 8.00 p.m. and thereafter study till 1.30 a.m. and then wake up early around 5.00 a.m. and study till 8.30 a.m. Also, I strategised my preparation according to the weightage of subjects in the mains examination. Moreover, I strategically planned areas that needed special emphasis, and for prelims and mains examination practise as many questions as you can. Moreover, revision is an important aspect, the more you revise the better you get at it.
8. What would you advise a person aspiring for judicial services examination given that it is a long tedious process?
Yes, the judicial services examination is a long process, but the most important thing is to have a purpose to do it like I always wanted to be an officer. Along with this, you need to be persistent and for that, I believe everyone should set achievable and realistic goals and be disciplined and motivated. And you should enjoy your preparation. For distractions, I believe we should not suppress them rather we should end them by doing what is distracting us. In my case when I wanted to watch a movie or series I used to binge-watch it and then get back to my to-do list and achieving the targets on my to-do list was a constant motivation. For setbacks, you should not see them as distractions. They are not your final report card, your ultimate goal should be your prime focus. And most importantly, do not compare yourself with other aspirants and do not measure your preparation in quantitative terms rather do it in qualitative terms. Strong motivation, a disciplined routine, and a quench for knowledge are the basic things you would require throughout the process.
9. What should be the plan of action for the mains examination of the judicial services examinations? Did it differ for you while appearing for the exams in different States, and why you preferentially targeted Haryana Judicial Services?
For Haryana, one should focus on the weightage of the subjects. You need time management for the mains examination. To write crisp answers in a time-bound manner is a very important aspect of the mains examination, this can only be done by constant practice for this you can take regular mock tests. Also, as I mentioned, it is very important to present a different perspective while writing the answers, in which the courses I have mentioned earlier are very helpful. Practise as many previous year questions as you can as every year the questions are almost on the same line.
10. Please share your interview experiences in Haryana Judicial Services Examinations.
The interview experience for me was very nice, although it was not my first time for an interview, but yes it was my first time for a judicial services examination. There was a very huge panel. I was asked a lot of questions relating to my personal life, educational qualification, and teaching experience as an Assistant Professor at DBRANLU. I was asked about my PhD subject. It was a great 7-8 minutes of learning experience. It was very enlightening as it actually lets you introspect and I would rather say it makes you meet with your inner self which was actually not done in the previous two stages of the examination because the interview is all about you, not about your legal knowledge as that has been tested in previous stages. In an interview, you go on autopilot mode. You cannot fake it. It is your inner self that is speaking and it brings out your core personality which was suppressed, and like I mentioned earlier your participation in all your extra and co-curricular activities will help you in this stage.