After OJS: Interview with Magistrate Siddhant Mishra

I still feel like Stephen Strange from the movie Dr. Strange, who is still discovering the depths of the science of mystical energy and existence of other dimensions, which may not be visible to naked human eyes

siddhant mishra (magistrate)

Few weeks ago I reached out to Magistrate Siddhant Mishra (through his instagram handle @siddhant.mishra5 ) after having admired him for so long in the hopes that he will clear some of my doubts that I had with respect to another interview he had given to Indian legal solutions (you can read it here).

He has been very kind and permitted me to take his interview. so here it is! What life after cracking the prestigious Odisha Judicial Services looks like. (All the judicial aspirants take note!)

Thank you for taking out time for this interview. I am very grateful for it. Though you are very well known, would you introduce yourself for the benefit of our readers?

Ans- Hello everybody! I am Siddhant Mishra. I am a Judicial Magistrate serving the Odisha Judicial Service, currently posted in District & Sessions Court, Puri. I am a BBA LL.B graduate from KIIT University (Batch of 2017) and LL.M (in Constitutional Law) graduate from National Law University Odisha (Batch of 2018).

Being from renowned institutions like KIIT and NLU Odisha, where the focus is on internships,work experience and grades, how far would you say that these matter in cracking the Odisha judicial services? That is, are they are mandatory requirement for the interview part?

Ans- Of course, different law colleges have been instituted with different agendas. Each of them are driven by curriculum best suited for their respective purposes. Amidst the spectrum of diversities that traditional law colleges, private law schools and NLUs have to offer, all that matters is the focus of the individual student. It would not be a fair proposition to suggest that, for instance, a traditional law college may not produce a corporate lawyer or a private law college may not produce a judicial service aspirant. Because at the end of the day, everything boils down to the focus and interest of the individual student. If they are passionate enough for their goal, their sky would just not be the limit for them.

In the interview you have mentioned that your decision to join judiciary stemmed from your interaction with the judicial fraternity. Would you please share what had , at that point of time, struck you most about judiciary?

Ans- It was an entire process I believe, for transforming my mere “decision” to join judiciary to take the shape of my “resolve” to join judiciary. So it will be very difficult for me to put my finger on any particular thing that had struck me the most. But one thing that struck me the most about the service is the degree of autonomy we get to exercise while discharging our functions. In other words, there is zero interference from any institution while a Court is carrying out its judicial functions. Even a Magistrate’s Court exercises sovereign judicial functions much like any of the High Courts or, for that matter, the Supreme Court and that puts all the courts on the same footing, irrespective of their positions in the hierarchy and scope of their powers. With that being said, it would be dishonest on my part, if I told you that the perks, facilities and pay of a Judicial Officer were not striking factors that influenced my decision. Of course, there’s that, but inasmuch they are good enough to sustain me.

You have also said that you had a very strong foundation in law in your college year itself. What was your studying method for it? Would you read books then make notes etc?

Ans- Believe it or not, I have never made notes in my entire academic career. You can say, I am a lazy person in that regard. Reading standard textbooks and the provisions of the law from the Bare Act have been my mantra. But of course, to each his own. If somebody is comfortable with preparing notes in order to supplement their preparations, then even better. But my advice to aspirants out there, please do not rely on somebody else’s notes to supplement your preparations because (a) its a product of the hard work of the maker of the notes, so give due credence and respect to that; (b) context of preparation of notes vary from person to person. So just be smart and don’t miss out on something which the maker of the notes believed not to be important. Be your own messiah, read and prepare your own notes and bank on it. (if at all you choose to adopt this method of preparation) 

During the continuance of your studies, how did you cope with both judiciary preparation and college studies? ( being from a nlu you would certainly have a lot of activities to get involved in too?)

Ans- It was tough, that’s all I can say. But you don’t know how capable you are until circumstances push you to the extreme. I had to work doubly hard and doubly smart. My LL.M studies took good beating because of my judicial service preparations. I had to miss LL.M classes and NLUO had strict attendance regime. I had two back papers in the first semester due to attendance shortfall. But I had to swallow the bitter pill and kept working hard towards my preparation because I had already gotten myself into it. (P.S- I had cleared OJS prelims before I joined NLUO, so I had to give it all for the mains). Ultimately, I passed out with decent results. But with that being said, LL.M is a substantial course requiring utmost focus and attention. (especially the one year courses). I would not advice candidates to do this, just because it worked out for me. Take your time, figure out what’s best for you and then accordingly plan what’s the right thing for you.

Did you ever procrastinate on your preparation?

Ans- l would be lying if I said “no” because preparation for competitive exams is a continuous and perennial process and in the meanwhile several extraneous factors may come into play. For instance, in my case, my LL.M assignments were impediments to my preparations and of course, they were also important. So many a times, I had to make conscious choices as to whether I have to procrastinate my assignments or my quota of preparation for the day. But one thing I always made sure was to make up for it in the subsequent occasions. To all the takers of the exam, it is okay if your preparations are getting procrastinated until you satisfy your conscience that your reasons for doing so were credible.

Much is not known about the procedure after a person cracks the prestigious and exam and gets into judicial services. Please tell us what happens once someone has cracked OJS?

Ans-  Once a person cracks the exam he gets associated with a year long training programme. The candidates are scheduled to undergo 6 months of training in the Odisha Judicial Academy which is termed as “institutional training”.Here the successful candidates go through interactive classroom lectures and perform assignments as per the training modules. In Judicial Academy, the resource persons and trainers ensure that the finer aspects of the legal subjects are imparted to them before they can be sent to field for their field training. Apart from that, the trainees are taught to imbibe judicial etiquette into their lifestyles and a holistic development of their personality fit enough to become a judicial officer is ensured. The rest of the six months the trainees are sent to their respective places of posting to ensure their exposure to the work life and judicial ethics. They are attached under several cadres of judicial officers during the tenure of their exposure training in order to understand and appreciate varied nature of works that are spread across various posts of the judicial department.

What is the importance of judgment writing as a skill in the exam itself? (are the exam takers expected to know about it?) Or is it something taught at the judicial academy? 

Ans- No, the exam takers are not expected to know about it while they are writing the exam. They will be thoroughly trained about it during their training programme in Judicial Academy and field exposure trainings. But I believe, judgment writing sill can never be taught to anyone. It’s something that’s very personal to the judge. A judge may hone his judgment writing skills through his experience and literature readings on the subject, but it can never be taught to him.

After spending almost two years as a judicial officer, do you still believe in – “In judiciary one has to live like a saint and work like a horse?”

Ans- Yes pretty much. In fact, my faith on this quote has deepened with the passage of time.

You have written that you used to visualise yourself as a judge sitting on the chair and being confident enough to counter the arguments of the advocate. Do you see that visual coming true now? And in the same vein please throw light on the roles and duties you are required to perform as a judicial officer in reality.

Ans- Of course, I can very much see that vision coming to fruition and it’s a great feeling. But a judicial officer’s role is much more than that. He is not expected to be a mute spectator of the court room proceeding. He has to ensure that neither of the sides should be in a position  to hijack the proceedings just because they could hire a more renowned counsel than the other. His personal prejudices should not affect the fate of the litigating parties. Apart from ensuring the courtroom decorum, he should have due regards for the witnesses of the court. He should be able to strive a finer balance between the rights of the victim and the accused and not get carried. The case record should be his gospel while delivering a judgment and passing an order. And those judgments and orders should speak for themselves. These are just to name a few. 

Could you please share your daily routine with us? 

Ans- My daily routine is much like any other person’s daily routine. Work, life and balance. But of course, as we all know, as judges or presiding officers of a court, we are under obligation to exercise certain restraints. To understand what I am talking about you may refer to “RESTATEMENT OF VALUES OF JUDICIAL LIFE” which was adopted in the Full Court Meeting of the Supreme Court of India on May 07, 1997

There are a few horror stories floating around the job- like harsh job conditions, strict seniors, overworking almost everyday etc. Do you suppose there is any hint of truth in them?

Ans- I believe these factors are omnipresent in all job profiles. This is not something, that is, only limited to judicial service. These are all subjective considerations. The nature of work that we do overshadow these horror stories to negligibility. Our work stands at a taller footing than all the aforesaid factors. Harsh working condition and bossy seniors may be part of any and every job under the sky. And speaking of overworking, if our single signature can have the effect of stripping away of the civil liberties and fundamental rights of a human, then we better buckle up for some hardwork

It is often perceived that judiciary is a boring job  (can we blame “suits” for glorifying litigation?) What is your opinion on this?

Ans- Trust me, it is not a boring job. Maybe the shades of this job are not glorified like that of the litigation. On a daily basis, the nature of work that we do keeps us on the edge of our seats. They are addictive and you may not be surprised to see officers who are obsessed with their jobs. Because everything here works upon the application of “judicial mind”. And for us to determine as to what constitutes “application of judicial mind”, we go on mind trips and that takes us places. As of today, I still feel like Stephen Strange from the movie Dr. Strange, who is still discovering the depths of the science of mystical energy and existence of other dimensions, which may not be visible to naked human eyes, but yeah, they do exist!

Please share your feedback on this interview and if you have any other lingering doubts please let the author know.

UNtil the next post, HAPPY HUSTLIN!

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