Inside India’s Youngest Judge Prep: Interview with Mayank Pratap Singh

In 2019, this young boy (only 21 years of age) took India by a storm after he was declared not only the Rajasthan Judicial Services Topper (2018) but also the country’s youngest judge.

Here we have candid interview with him regarding the details of his preparation strategy for the judicial services for some extra dose of motivation this year!

Congratulations on cracking the Rajasthan Judicial Services in your maiden attempt, and at such a young age too! I am sure that you already know that you have refuelled everyone’s motivation to crack the judicial exams. Tell us how you feel about becoming India’s youngest judge.

Thank you so much. I extremely happy and joyful with the results. Getting rank 1 is very special for me and I am very fortunate that I get to be a source of inspiration for today’s youth. This is more special because I became eligible for the exam this year only when the minimum age was reduced from 23 to 21.

That’s wonderful to know, and before we get to the questions about your preparation strategy would you tell us your main motivation for joining the judiciary?

The motivation behind this coveted field was the passion for social service and helping people using law. I saw judiciary as a potent means to dispense justice to people using law which laymen are unaware of. Judiciary plays a very important role specially in today’s multidimensional lifestyle of a modern society where encroachment of rights has become order of the day. That’s what became a motivation for me.

What a noble thought! Now, do tell us when did you start preparing for the judicial services? In the first year itself or come time later?

I had decided to join judiciary in first year itself but never started preparing for it because I knew I would be 21 when I would pass out of college when I will be 21 and not eligible for the exam. I never took any coaching classes. It was only 2 months before prelims that I started preparing.

Did you pay any special attention to a particular stage of the exams, that is to say, did you find preparation for the mains more important/harder than that of the preliminary?

Syllabus for law is common for both pre and mains. I made sure that I adopted an integrated approach for both the stages. But since pre is only qualifying in nature, mains was the one I focussed more. Mains has subjective type questions which requires answer writing practice.

What was your strategy to prepare for the prelims?

My strategy was to get good hold on all the Bare Acts in the syllabus . But that’s not the only aspect. I made sure to go though the important case laws and pieces of commentary too since I adopted an integrated approach. 

How much time did you devote in total for the preparation up to the prelims?

I had only 2 months time so my efforts were double the others who might be preparing for a year or two. The ideal time for preparation is atleast one year.

After knowing your prelims result, how did you react and when did you start preparing for the mains?

I was terrified when I came out of exam centre. But when the answer key was issued my scores were good. The results came one month after and I was very happy to know that I have cleared the exam given the fact that time I had was considerably less.

How much time was available with you when you started preparing for the mains?

I had around 5 months to prepare for it. But it was because my exams were delayed by a month.

What was your strategy to prepare for the mains?

I made sure to be well versed with bare Acts first. That is the basis. Then I resorted to standard books for the respective laws and went through case laws and important commentaries. In order to practice answer writing I joined test series and practices writing answers to the questions asked in judicial services. 

Is the language part in the exams more important than the law part considering it hypothetically might be more mark fetching?

It’s not more important but as important as law papers. Since in mains they constitute one third of total marks, they should not be neglected. One must practice w during essays beforehand.

Do you think that answer writing is an important skill in cracking these exams? If yes, then how did you hone that skill?

Answer writing is very important since mains is subjective question paper. I polished that skill by repeatedly writing test papers at different institutions and focus on weak parts whenever necessary

Can you give some tips on answer writing?

Keep the language clear and legible. Read the question careful to be sure about its requirements. Then start answering the question from very first line and do not beat about the Bush. End on a positive conclusion but it’s not necessary to give a conclusion every time. Make sure to follow the word limit.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you think handwriting is important in our traditional written exams?

I would say a 6. On one hand it’s not like if you have good handwriting you will get excellent marks even if you do not write correct answer . On the other hand, a good and legible handwriting combined with a good answer always fetches brownie points. At the end make sure your handwriting can be easily interpreted by examiner . That’s all that matters.

I read in your interviews that you would use your phone to maximize your productivity using your smartphone (which is honestly so rare) so do tell us how did you do it? What are the specific apps/ methods that boosted your studying style?

I used technology for the purpose of making schedules. I maintained e notes and small target plans. I browse net for getting legal updates. Just general usage and apps like evernote.

Is judgment writing an important part of the exam? If so, how can one prepare for it?

Judgment writing is extremely important. It is not only a way to check your knowledge of law but a test of your analytical abilities and the acumen in applying law to real life cases. One can prepare by first being thoroughly aware of the traditional law procedure of criminal and civil cases. Go though the certified copies of judgments of Magistrate’s court and court of sessions. It will give you a idea about the structure of answer writing.

How did you memorise so many sections and case laws? (Perhaps the only question everyone wonders about)

The key is to Read repeat and Revise. There is no magical formula that one can follow to learn all the sections overnight. It takes time and multiple readings to master and learn all the provisions.

Ideally, how may revisions should be done to know the material like the back of one’s hand? And how many did you do?

One should atleast do 2 revisions before sitting for prelims. Since law syllabus is same for pre and mains one automatically goes through the syllabus multiple times and that is now than sufficient.

When you got to know about your mains result, did you immediately start prepping for the interview?

Yes I did. One should not ignore the importance of interview.

How did you prepare for your interview?

I revised the conventional laws in the syllabus that I had studied for mains. Along with that, I followed the legal issues in society and recent legal developments in laws and judgments.

In which language was the interview conducted?

Since my language in exam was English, I gave the interview in English. But one can give the interview in Hindi too if one chooses to.

What kind of questions were put to you in the interview? 

They ranged from conventional civil and criminal law questions, recent supreme court judgments and personal questions from law as a field.

Would you kindly recommend some books (law books included) and resources to prepare for judicial services?

Constitution: MP Jain

Crpc: kelkar

Cpc: takwani or Mulla 

Evidence: Batuk Lal

Ipc: Ratanlal and Dhirajlal

Transfer of property: Avatar Singh 

Contract Act and Specific Relief Act : Avatar Singh 

Hindu Law : Paras Diwan 

Muslim Law: Aquil Ahmed 

Law of torts  Bangia 

For essays : Arihant and online sources.

Do you believe that taking time off social media aided you in focusing on your exams? 

I never used social media extensively. But I think that it does help in increased focus . However it’s not a golden rule.

Given your hectic preparation strategy, how much time would you devote to your studies everyday?

For competitive exams as tough as this, it is necessary to maintain a continuity. I made sure to study 5 to 6 hours daily and when required, more than that too.

Do you think that the college studies might hinder judicial preparation?

Absolutely not at all. I can safely say this considering my experience that sincerity towards college studies was the only reason I was able to prepare in 2 months before prelims. Otherwise if one starts from scratch it requires atleast one year to cover the syllabus.

Speaking of college, how important are marks and internship for judicial services?

Internships are important in the sense that we get to use our intellectual capabilities in new fields and get to know about new laws. As far as marks are concerned they are not that important but they se he as an incentive to excel every time.

Do you have a quote/ motto to live by?

Do it today. Sometimes later becomes never.

On a slightly unrelated note, do you believe that staying healthy is directly proportional to our productivity and performance? If so, what steps do you take to stay true to the adage – “healthy body in a healthy mind”

I firmly relive that staying healthy increases your capacity to absorb things more. I went for morning and evening walk to stay fit physically. I avoided greasy food and ate high energy foods and had meals at proper time. For mental fitness, I made sure to take regular breaks, talk to my friends or parents whenever I felt low.

Thank you for your valuable time and before we part what message would you like to give to the judicial aspirants out there?

Do not quit. Even if you fail, cone back again with vigour and conquer the mountain. All the best for future endeavours.

You can also reach out to him on his instagram – @mayankps

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