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In this article, we will discuss the Job opportunities for law students in the Indian Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch.
The term ‘Judge Advocate’ is derived from “Judex advocates” meaning Judge called to assist the court without being a constituent of it. In the Indian context, the Charter of 1683 was provided for a Court of Admiralty. The first mention of the Judge Advocate General is found in the Articles of War of 1765. Initially, the Judge Advocate General was responsible for prosecution in the name of the crown.
History of Judge Advocate General’s Department is initially linked with the history of the Institution of Court-Martial. In the time of King Henry IV, there used to be a Marshal Court called “Curia Militaries” (the Knights’ Court or the Court of the Chivalry).
The word ‘Marshal’ is a combination of the word ‘mare’ (horse) and “shall” (governor) and was possibly replaced by word ‘martial’ in the context of ‘Court- Martial’ because of the connection of the latter with soldiers.
“The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your Country comes first, always and every time.
The Honour, Welfare and Comfort of the Men you command come next.
Your own Ease, Comfort and Safety come last, always and every time.”
-Field Marshal Philip Chatwode
Each Military lawyer may work within any branch of the Navy, Army, or Air force despite the fact that each branch has its own Judge Advocate Generals. Judge Advocate General is the legal advisor to the Service Chief in matters of Military, Martial and (in its fighting service aspect) International Law. The work is very similar to any litigator. They assist in finalization drafts, briefing Govt. Advocates, compliances and to appear before various courts and tribunals. The rank of JAG is equal to Lieutenant.
- Candidate must be a citizen of India for applying for JAG.
- Candidate applying must be between the age group of 21-27 year. (As on January for April course or on July for October course)
- Candidate must have 55% in LLB/LLM from any institute recognized by Bar Council of India.
- Candidate applying must complete their LLB and have the provisional or final degree with them.
- Candidate must have a better eye vision of 6/6, along with height of 157.5 cm for men and 152 cm for women.
- Initial shortlisting of online applications will be done at Recruiting Directorate Army Headquarters and the decision of DG Recruiting will be final. In this regard, no representation will be entertained.
- Those who qualify the shortlisting process can appear for SSB. Which is divided into two sub-stages. Both the stages are based on Psychological Aptitude Test, Group Test, Psychological Tests, and Interview which will extend for a duration of 4 days. Those who qualify will be finally screened on the medical grounds.
- Officers are directly commissioned to the JAG’s Department of the Navy
- The eligibility conditions are the same as that of the Army
- Qualifying SSB is essential. No written test for SSB
- Officers with 3-13 years of Service with the Air Force, having a Degree in Law can opt for posting with the JAG’s Department
The selection procedure of SSB is impartial, fair and open-ended. As the only objective is to select the best candidate. As discussed above the selection is based on the following methods-
- Psychological Aptitude Test
- Physical Test
- Ground Tasks
Adding to it there are some basic attributes which the panel eye on-
- Positive Attitude
- Analytical Mind
- Team Work
- Good Communication Skills
- Leadership Qualities
Role and Responsibility
The post of Judge Advocate General who is the Legal Head and Advisor of the Chief of Service is held by
- Major General in the Army
- Air Vice Marshal in the Air Force
- Rear Admiral in the Navy
Services in JAG Department is Judicial Services, which also includes providing of legal assistance in matters related to military, martial or international disputes. They also provide legal aid to all the commanders and officers.
JAG is the single nodal agency for institutionalized judicial system. They are also an advisor in matters related to Discipline, Legal and Litigation. Their function is not just restricted to above mentioned. JAG’s are entrusted with handling of litigation including Drafting, Briefing of Counsels and Appearing before Courts. They also act as single point contact between Services and Ministry of Defence on all Legal matters and assist in policy-making.
One of the most important role of JAG is to conduct Court-Martial. Court-Martial is a Jury System where the JAG act as a presiding officer to conduct the proceedings and advise the parties. JAG has to summarize the case and pronounce the verdict based on the vote by Jury Members, as per the rules Army Act & Rules. The sentence pronounced by JAG should be confirmed by a superior authority.
Training will be conducted at Chennai for Army and at Kerala for Navy and their further posts will be accommodated on the basis of the merit.
- Forty-nine weeks training duration. A trainee will officially be allotted the post of Lt. JAG only on successful completion of the training period.
- A candidate is not allowed to marry during the period of training failing to which they will be subject to dismissal.
- All candidates who successfully complete Pre-Commission training at Officers Training Academy, Chennai will be awarded “Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies” by the University of Madras.
Tenure & Promotion
There is a six-month probation period which is applicable to all officers. An overall tenure is of 14 years with subject to certain restrictions. After 10 years of service an SSC officer, if fit and suitable for further continuation will continue for a period of another 4 years.
The promotion is based on the year of service and annual report by an internal committee. A JAG has to undergo various test and training annually which also has an impact on the promotion. The post of JAG starts from Lieutenant and they are promoted to Captain, Major, Lt. Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier, Major General, Lt. General/HAG Scale, so on.
Post-Retirement Career Options
- Litigation Counsel.
- Corporate In-House Counsel.
- Legal Advisors.
- Arbitration & Conciliation.
- Member AFT/CAT.
- Short Service Officers get benefit in joining State Judicial Services.
JAG is an absolute correct way to fulfil one’s dream. The officers always have a fixed timeline and working hours which helps them in achieving the attributes from the profession. Like PT at 06.00 hrs to Sports activities and Mess parties till midnights from which they get proper job satisfaction, social status and better quality of life. The officers are also transferred to different places which make their lives filled with varieties. They are also provided with holiday package and training in foreign countries which is again an adventure.
“JAG is a tourist without spending money” – Maj. Gen`. P.K. Sharma (Retd.)
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How to prepare for qualifying SSB?
Ans: To qualify SSB the candidate may prefer any best book available in the market or opt for coaching, according to their choice. But some of the most important things to be taken care of are Positive Attitude, Analytical Mind, Team Work, Confidence, Good Communication Skills, Leadership Qualities, Attentive, Sharp, and Honesty. A habit of reading newspaper daily will do wonders.
Can JAG Officers opt for Judiciary Post-Retirement?
Ans: Yes. JAG officers can opt for Higher Judicial Services, post-retirement depending upon the eligibility criteria prescribed to undertake the Judicial examination.
Does height play an important role?
Ans: Yes. Height is one of the important aspects of considering the candidature. In the case of candidates belonging to the North East and hilly areas like Gorkhas, Nepalese, Assamese, and Garhwalis, the height is relaxed by 5 cm and weight commensurate with reduced height. In the case of candidates from Lakshadweep, the minimum acceptable height is reduced by 2 cm.
Is there any restriction on attempts to take SSB Exam?
Ans: There is no restriction to attempts for SSB till the time a candidate is eligible for applying.
Is there any reservation in Judicial Services after retiring from JAG?
Ans: No. There is no reservation policy in Judicial Services after retiring from JAG. Although retired JAG’s may become a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal.
What is the policy-making aspect in the military? Are there any think tanks that are recognized officially by the Army/Air Force?
Chief of the three Services along with their Principal Staff Officers make policies for the efficient functioning of their respective Services. Wherever considered essential, legal advice is sought by the JAG.
What is the aspect of academic writing in the military (journals etc)? Can common citizens contribute to these journals?
Institute of Military Law, Kamptee publishes bi-annually, Military Law Journal. Anyone can contribute their Research-based Articles for publication in this Journal.
The Registrars of Armed Forces Tribunal Benches can be requested for Internships.
Is there any kind of relaxation or reservation for applying in Judicial Services after serving as a Judge Attorney General?
Yes, some States have had Reservations in their Judicial Services which should, however, be checked from respective States.
Can Advocates other than Government appointed litigate before AFT?
Govt. appointed Advocates represent the Govt. and Armed Forces only. The Petitioners have to engage their own Counsel.
What regular practices girls must do so as to crack SSB as there are very fewer seats for girls.
SSB is the same for Boys and Girls, there is nothing different from boys that they need to do.
All those who apply for JAG are eligible for the interview or a merit list is prepared based upon the percentage of UG/PG? If there is any merit list of how many people can appear for the interview, like 20,50 or 100, etc.
Ordinarily, all eligible candidates are called for SSB unless the aspirants are unusually large.
- Is there any reservation or weightage to candidates belonging to Armed Forces Officer?
Ans: No. There is no reservation of such kind. The selection process is impartial, fair, and open-ended. If a candidate tries to influence the panel to qualify SSB than his/her candidature is rejected.
- How to do an internship in Armed Forces Tribunal?
Ans: For an internship at Armed Forces Tribunal one needs to contact the Registrar of the Tribunal and complete the necessary requirements sought.
Maj, Gen. P.K. Sharma (Retd.) (Speaker) can be reached via LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/praveen-kumar-sharma-b34238166/