Amrita Tonk is from the batch of 2005-2010. On graduation, she joined Luthra & Luthra Law Offices. In 2013, she went on to ace the Delhi Judicial Sevices Exam by bagging the 7th rank.
Blue Pencil: What motivated you to study law?
Amrtia Tonk: I was a science student and had appeared for a number of entry level examinations in medical colleges. Around the same time, the AIL applications came out and a number of schoolmates had applied, so I decided to give it a shot and fortunately I attained a good position in the merit list. However, now I had to make a choice between medicine and law. Although, my family was keen that I join the medical college, for some reason I wanted to join a law school. At that time I was not sure if it was the right decision as I didn’t know much about law and I didn’t have anyone to ask for guidance due to my non-legal background. I think it was more of a gut feeling that made me join AIL, which I, thankfully, do not regret. After I joined AIL, a month later I received another call from a medical college. However, by then I was already at AIL and was enjoying the subjects and the company of my new friends. So the decision to stay at AIL was a no brainer.
BP: How was your journey at AIL?
AT: It was the best time I had and I still cherish the memories. Given an opportunity, I would love to re-live the same experience once again.
BP: How was the senior-junior equation (and how many bottles were you asked to fill)?
AT: (Smiles) Like everyone at AIL, I too have filled my share of bottles. In the first year, I remember, we would be asked by our seniors at any time/place (in the admin block/hostels) during the day (or be called from deep slumber during the night), to give an “intro“. I would wonder why I was required to give an intro to nearly every senior that I would cross and that too so many times. Now come to think of it, I feel that the first year students, were a source of entertainment for the seniors (chuckles). These intros were always light hearted and fun, which is why the bond between seniors and juniors, even after graduation, is so strong. I have met a lot of people from other law schools and all of them say that they have always seen AILIANS meet each other with a lot of warmth. So to answer your question on the senior-junior bond, it was awesome. The intros helped in breaking the ice and I feel it had a huge role to play in creating that bond.
BP: When did you decide to attempt judicial services exam? What motivated you?
AT: I had the good fortune to have worked with the Real Estate Team at Luthra & Luthra Law Offices after graduating from law school. It was an enriching experience and I got the opportunity to work with an amazing team of lawyers. The notification for the Delhi Judicial Service came out while I was at Luthra & Luthra. I appeared for the preliminary exam in December 2011. Coming from an Army background, the idea of public service was instilled in me. Judiciary was a way in which I could continue doing something I enjoyed and at the same time serve the public at large.
BP: When did you start preparing for the exam? When should an aspirant ideally start preparing for the judicial services?
AT: Honestly, I hadn’t been preparing for the Judicial Service exams at all. I started studying a month before the preliminary exam. However, in case you’ve already made up your mind about joining the judicial services, it’s best to start preparing at least a year before the exam. Preferably in the last year of law school itself, when you’re already in the studying mode.
BP: How did you prepare for judicial services? Did you enrol in a coaching institute?
AT: I read the bare acts very carefully. The Delhi Judicial Service Exam is an application based exam, so doesn’t require any rote learning (thankfully!). So I read mostly from the bare acts, since I had less time. I also attempted a lot of MCQs and that helped me gain confidence for the exam.
While preparing, you need to be thorough with the procedural laws, Cr.P.C, C.P.C and the Indian Evidence Act. An added advantage in case of Delhi is that the preliminary exam includes english and current affairs, so there are good chances of scoring well for those who are also preparing for Civil Services. Be up to date with current affairs of the six months prior to the exam, by reading the newspapers and subscribe to a chronicle as well. For the mains exam, I suggest, choose one book for each subject. The books that we’ve all referred to during law school are good enough for this. Keep yourself updated with the recent judgments of the Supreme Court and the High Court of Delhi. This is important as in our mains exam, we were given a set of facts and were required to write a judgment deciding the same. Most of these questions were based on cases which had recently been decided by the Hon’ble High Court.
Coming to question on coaching, I did not enrol in a coaching institute since I had started working with Accenture and hence couldn’t take out time for attending any classes.
BP: What is the interview stage like? How can one ace it?
AT: It’s important to understand that when you appear for the interview, you’ve already been tested with regards to your knowledge of law in the preliminary and mains exam. So the objective of the interview is to get to know you as a person. The interview is generally CV based and with respect to your background. You can also be asked about your opinion on a legal issue or on the current affairs. While answering such questions, remember that there really isn’t a right or a wrong answer and you must speak your mind and be able to support your opinion. One can be a bundle of nerves during the interview, but just think of it as a conversation that you are having as it can help in remaining calm. I must also say that the panel of the Ld. Judges who interview you are not out there to intimidate you . They just want to know if you are the right person for the job. So, at the cost of repetition, don’t be nervous and be yourself.
BP: It’s common knowledge that being a Judge comes at the cost of one’s social life. Is it true?
AT: Not necessarily. You need to keep your professional and social life separate. As is true of any other profession, like in the Army as well, one needs to be mature, balanced and discreet in one’s behaviour. There are certain restrictions, but they are well within the norms of expected behaviour of any professional.
BP: Any advice to students who aspire for judicial services?
AT: Though slightly deviating from the question, I would like to first say that while at AIL please enjoy your time as this is the best time that you will have and cherish for the rest of your lives. Having said that, students who aspire to join the judicial services should give special attention to the procedural laws. Coaching can help but do a background check on the coaching centre(s) before enrolling with one. Speak to the seniors (we have a good number in different Judicial Services). Get in touch with the ones who have graduated. I can say from my own experience, that AIL is a huge family and everyone is happy to help a fellow AILIAN.
Amrita Tonk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.