Interview: Harleen Kaur, Rank 3 PCS (J) and Rank 4 HCS (J)

By | March 23, 2020
Interview: Harleen Kau

Victory has the essence to prepare an individual for accomplishing the extraordinary, and this has been the path followed by Harleen Kaur, a student of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala. She is an inspiration to those who believe in the spirit of hard work. With constant dedication and spur, she was able to secure Rank 3 and 4 in Punjab and Haryana Judiciary Exam respectively.

She pursued LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh and did her specialization in Criminal Law. Apart from this, she has also cleared her Delhi Mains and is eagerly waiting for her upcoming interview.

The team of Legal Bites was obliged to conduct an interview with Harleen Kaur, Rank 3 PCS (J) and Rank 4 HCS (J). This is how it goes:

Legal Bites: What was your inspiration to pursue law and did you plan on pursuing judiciary from the beginning of your law school?

Harleen Kaur: Ever since my school days, I was always intrigued by subjects that were society oriented rather than technical subjects like science or maths. However, it took me a while to understand my true calling. I took up economic Hons. from DU after class 12th which I pursued only for a year. The day I decided to give up that course and prepare for CLAT was life-changing for me. Since that day I’ve loved studying law, exploring the depths of every provision and the ways in which every provision can be interpreted. The dynamism of law binds me to it.

I didn’t plan to pursue the judiciary from the beginning of my law school. I was confused between litigation and judiciary.

“ However, I was very clear I don’t want to join the corporate sector. Over the period of time, I realized that the Independence and aura of this office strengthened my conviction and by the beginning of my fourth year I was sure that I want to take this exam.”

Legal Bites: Students usually pursue civil or judicial services do not show interest in co-circular activities (Moots, Trial advocacy) in the college, what is your opinion and did you participate in them?

Harleen Kaur: I’ve been into debating since my school days. Public speaking has always been my passion. Therefore, I did participate in inter and intra college moot Court competitions for the first three years of my college. I devoted the last 2 years to Judiciary.

“I believe no knowledge is ever a waste of time. Lew in every form be it moot courts, writing research papers or doing internships teaches you something. The drafting of contentions taught me how to put your vast knowledge and research in a few words”.

This really improved my answer writing for mains. A lot of students know the answer and have vast knowledge but do not know how to write it in a structured way. I knew my answer writing is my strength so I have never really practiced writing answers but I would suggest one must focus on this. This is the make or breaks in the mains. Lastly, participation in such competitions is a personal decision. However one can always participate in moot courts which are based on one criminal or procedural law.

National Legislative Drafting and Review Competition 2020

Legal Bites: Do you think Trial Advocacy competitions play a vital role for any student who is looking to pursue judiciary since it majorly deals with procedure and evidence laws?

Harleen Kaur: I’ve never participated in a trial advocacy moot court competition. I believe once one is done with procedural and evidence law in the college curriculum participating in such competitions would help one understand how these provisions are used in the court of law.

Legal Bites: What was your routine whilst preparing for the Judicial service examination? When did you start preparing?

Harleen Kaur: I started preparing in the fourth year of college. I never took formal coaching from any institute but I attended judiciary classes in my college. During my fourth year, I didn’t study for long hours but my focus was to read all the major textbooks thoroughly, understand concepts in-depth and build a strong base. I didn’t study in my 10th semester. After passing out in 2018, I’ve been preparing rigorously. My routine was very simple:

“I used to study in the library. I’ve never studied in the room since I believe the library helps one to stay focussed and avoids distractions. I studied in the library from 10 am to 8 pm with lunch and tea break included. Between preliminary and mains examination, I’ve studied till midnight. I always made sure that I kept one hour in the day for myself when I used to walk and listen to some music.”

When you prepare for competitive exams it’s very important to keep yourself mentally stable. One must do an activity which helps you in relieving stress and staying calm. It could be anything, whatever suits a person.

Legal Bites: Would you like to suggest some books for the preparation of the Prelims and Mains? Would you recommend coaching to students who would like to give the Judiciary exams?

Harleen Kaur: I didn’t take formal coaching from any institute. I only attended interview batches after I cleared my mains examination. Whether one wants to join coaching or not is a very personal decision. My advice to all the students would be whatever institute you join, do not depend on their notes for every topic.

Law is very vast and nobody can cover all topics for you. Some institutes are very good and it’s worth joining them but I would recommend for some topics, one must read books and prepare your own notes or supplement coaching notes with your notes. Coaching can only guide a person.

“Always remember your most powerful weapon is your own self.”

 Learn to depend on yourself.

“For preliminary, especially for Punjab and Haryana, one must solve Universal MCQs. Also, one must solve previous year question papers for whichever state you’re appearing. For Delhi preliminary, time management is very important since it’s very lengthy. So one must practice in a time-bound manner.”

I referred following books for mains-

Takwani for CPC, Pillai for IPC, Kelkar for CrPC, Monir and Avtar Singh for Evidence, Singhal and AK Jain for contracts, AK Jain for Partnership, SOGA and Limitation, Poonam Pradhan and Paras Diwan for Hindu Law. Also, I solved previous years’ mains question papers of both Punjab and Haryana thoroughly.”

Legal Bites: How would you suggest a student to prepare considering there are different state exams and patterns?

Harleen Kaur: First and foremost is to decide one or two states which are your priorities. Since there is a lot of uncertainty one has to appear for more than one state but at the same time, it’s also important to appear for states which have almost the same pattern. After that, one must analyze previous year question papers of these states and prepare a strategy accordingly. Previous year papers help you understand which topics are being asked repeatedly.

“One must definitely prepare notes on such topics so that you can quickly write answers on these topics in the exam and save time. Time management is very important in mains since the exams are usually very lengthy.”

I believe the key is to revise a topic as many times as possible so that you can reproduce more points than others in less amount of time. Also, as I’ve mentioned earlier good answer writing is a must. A good way to start an answer is by giving it’s a jurisprudential aspect or linking it with constitution where ever possible. Linking with the constitution of referring to other inter-linkages of law always helps in fetching extra marks.

“My primary focus was always Punjab and Haryana and after it Delhi. In Punjab and Haryana, languages are very important. The English exam is of 200 marks, Punjabi of 150 marks and Hindi of 100 marks. Apart from being well versed in law one needs to score well in the language papers. For these two states, languages must be prepared well.”

Legal Bites: What was the pattern of questions during the interview and how did you prepare for it?

Harleen Kaur: In Punjab and Haryana, the interview panel consists of 8 members and 5 of them are High Court judges. I’ve scored the second-highest score in both the interviews. I believe the key is confidence and conceptual clarity.

“My Haryana Interview lasted almost for 30 mins and I was asked section 319 and 193 CrPC, bail-in appeal i.e, section 389 CrPC, recent judgments on section 13B of Hindu marriage act and lastly I was asked a question on maintenance on which Punjab and Haryana High Court had delivered a judgment 3 days before the interview. So one has to be updated with the recent legal developments.”

Access to updates related to law is very helpful in this regard. You must subscribe to law portals. My last advice would be to answer all your questions with confidence and use legal language. Also, nobody knows all the answers in an interview. All that matters is how well you’ve answered the questions you know.

Legal Bites: Did you have a back-up option in mind in case you did not do well in exams?

Harleen Kaur: To be honest, I had never really thought of a backup. No doubt the thought of not clearing the exam was scary and stressful both. After one year of preparation, I was very sure in case I don’t get through in the first attempt, I will appear again.

This was my dream since fourth year of college. I wanted to clear this exam as badly as one wants to breathe. I gave every once of my body and soul to this exam. I believe if one works hard sooner or later you will be through.

 I’m grateful to God for showering his blessings on me.

Legal Bites: Do you think legal studies should be made compulsory in schools?

Harleen Kaur: Legal education is very important in today’s world as people are not aware of their basic rights which eventually leads to exploitation. Legal education cannot be taught in-depth at the school level but knowledge about some basic rights like the right to maintenance, rights related to arrest or search, fundamental rights can be introduced in school at a basic level. The idea should be to make citizens aware of their rights.

Legal Bites: Do you have any parting advice for our readers?

Harleen Kaur: Believe in yourself.


Author: Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is a student at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.

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