An Interview With Reeti Tripathy [She Cracked OJS On Her 1st Attempt]

1. Congratulations Ma’am on your success! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Thank you! My heartfelt gratitude and regards to all. I am Reeti Tripathy. Even though I hail from the district of Jagatsinghpur, Odisha; I am born and brought up in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. I have successfully qualified the prestigious Odisha Judicial Services (OJS), 2018 in Rank 4 in my maiden attempt. I have completed fourteen years of formative schooling from L. K. G. to +2 (Science) from D. A. V. Public School, Chandrasekharpur. Thereafter, I graduated as a Gold Medalist in 5 Years Integrated B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) from University Law College, Utkal University, Vani Vihar. I am currently pursuing my LL.M. (Business Laws) at the P. G. Department of Law, Utkal University, Vani Vihar. I joined the bar and have been practicing as an Advocate, Orissa High Court since 2018. I consider myself as a shooting star leaving a blazing trail in the inky-blue sky: bright, packed with energy and the fire to achieve anything and everything; I am all that and a lot more.

2. Why did you choose judiciary as a career option?

Law is one of the greatest healing professions. While the medicine heals the body, the clergy heals the soul; the law heals the societal rifts. I would rather say that I didn’t choose the judiciary; the judiciary chose me. But, this can be said that choosing law as an academic pursuit after the intermediate is in itself a non-conventional challenge and a road rarely taken by the young generation these days. I had an inclination towards law as a career since 2009, but it faded into oblivion till 2012. After completing my +2 in Science Stream, I got admitted into a reputed State Law College, wherein my passion got its shape and my overall personality reached boundless heights.

3. What’s the pattern of the OJS exam?

The direct recruitment to the Cadre of Civil Judges is being made by the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) through a competitive examination, i.e., the Odisha Judicial Service (OJS) Examination, which consists of three main parts; viz. preliminary written examination, main written examination and interview. The preliminary written examination is of one paper carrying 100 marks with duration of one and half hours with objective type questions of multiple choices (i.e., 100 questions of one mark each with negative marks of twenty-five percent of marks allotted to a question for every wrong answer) on the subjects namely, the Constitution of India, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act, the Indian Penal Code, the Limitation Act, the Transfer of Property Act, the Contract Act, the Specific Relief Act, the Law of Succession (the Indian Succession Act and the Hindu Succession Act). The main written examination is on two compulsory papers and three optional papers. Each of the compulsory subjects carry 150 marks with a duration of 2 1/2 (two and half) hours and each of the optional subjects carry 150 marks with a duration of three hours.

(1) Compulsory Papers:
PAPER 1—General English (Translation and retranslation, Short essay of 150 words, Precise writing consisting of 300 words, Comprehension passage with five questions)

PAPER 2—Procedural Laws (The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 & the Indian Evidence Act, 1872)

(2) Optional Papers: (three subjects from the following)

  • Law of Crimes and Law of Torts
  • Personal Law (Hindu Law & Mohammedan Law)
  • Law of Property (The Transfer of Property Act, 1882; the Specific Relief Act, 1963 & the Limitation Act, 1963)
  • Law of Contract (The Indian Contract Act, 1872; the Sales of Goods Act, 1930; the Partnership Act, 1932 & the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881)
  • Jurisprudence and Constitution of India.

The Interview carries 100 marks. The questions are not to be outside of the main written examination syllabus. In the interview, the questions covering broad international and national issues and matters of common interest in the field of Arts and Science may also be asked. The Interview Board consists of the Chairperson, Odisha Public Service Commission; a sitting Judge of the Orissa High Court and a Member, Odisha Public Service Commission.

4. Have you appeared for other judiciary exams also?

No, I haven’t appeared for any other judiciary examinations. This is my maiden attempt in the Odisha Judicial Service (OJS) Examinations. In fact, I haven’t appeared in any other competitive examinations, per se.

5. What was your overall strategy for OJS?

I had primarily focused on building firm foundations of my fundamentals of core legal subjects and emerging law dynamics throughout my law school career under the able guidance of my Professors at my alma mattar—“University Law College, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar”. Being regular to each classroom lectures and consistent academic excellence didn’t just help me graduate as a Gold Medalist in Law, but also helped me in understanding law to the core. It’s been a long journey of all I had acquired in my 5 Years Integrated B.A.LL.B. (Hons.), first year of LL.M. (Business Laws) and eleven months of advocacy in the Orissa High Court. To be precise, my passion for law made me achieve a lot of accolades, experiences and recognition, which gave me the winning-edge. My achievements and experiences in moot courts, trial advocacy, legal drafting, judgement writing, legislative drafting, debate, devil’s advocate, turncoat debate, extempore, elocution, essay writing, paper presentation and many more helped me shape my swords for the Judiciary Exam too as it helped me know the practical application of the laws contained in the texts.

6. How did you prepare for (prelims and mains)?

I didn’t have any specific preparation for prelims and mains, to be honest. I did my graduation with utmost dedication and sincerity. Starting from attending every lectures, preparing notes on certain grey areas of the curriculum not available in the text books, reading as many judgments as possible, referring to the international and national journals of law, and participating in every type of competitions related to law sharpened my intellect. I had chalked out the pattern of the questions coming for the OJS Examinations in the final year of my graduation by analyzing all the previous years’ questions since 1975. So, I was comfortable with the pattern, how to write and what not to write; and I feel, at this phase, half of one’s preparation is done. I overlooked all the bare acts for the Preliminary Written Examination within 2-3 days. Since, I was accustomed with the pattern of the examination and the roadmap to excel at the available time-frame, I didn’t have to struggle at the first level. After the results of the Prelims were declared, I started some serious preparation of 45 days by going through the text books, class notes, recent developments in law, and bare acts. I devoted 13-15 hours per day having weekly deadlines to meet. I had opted for the optional subjects namely, Law of Property, Law of Contracts & Personal Law. I devoted maximum chunk of my preparation towards the Procedural Laws. I also practiced the translation and retranslation for the General English paper from the previous years’ questions. The drafting work at the Chamber helped me in this aspect to a great extent. This is how was my preparation.

7. How did you prepare for the interview?

I believe that the interview is not just about performance, but how well one reflects one’s true personality and how suitable one is for the post. I watched innumerable videos on positive human traits to boost my confidence. I focused on recent as well as remarkable landmark judgments of the Supreme Court; recent developments in law; amendments; basic connotations of legal terms from the entire OJS Mains Syllabus; geographical, historical and social significance of the State of Odisha; the hierarchy, constitution and powers of the Indian Judiciary; my diploma courses, international and national publications; most debatable law topics and issues of national and international concern. The best take away for the interviews shall be—“Just be yourself!”

8. Can you share your book list for all subjects/parts (prelims and mains)?

The books and materials I preferred for my preparations are enlisted hereinbelow.—

For Prelims—Only Bare Acts and Previous Years’ Questions

For Mains—

            C.P.C.—C. K. Takwani

            Cr.P.C.—R. V. Kelkar and S. N. Mishra

            Evidence—Ratanlal & Dhirajlal

            Transfer of Property—Dr. R. K. Sinha

            Specific Relief—Dr. R. K. Bangia

            Limitation—J. D. Jain

            Contract—Dr. R. K. Bangia, Avtar Singh

            Partnership—Dr. R. K. Bangia

            Negotiable Instrument—Dr. R. K. Bangia

            Sale of Goods—Dr. R. K. Bangia

            (Mercantile Law—N. D. Kapoor)

            Hindu Law—R. K. Agarwala, Dr. Basanta K. Sharma

            Mohammedan Law—Prof. P. C. Jain & P. K. Gupta, Aqil Ahmad

9. OJS has many local laws and other laws not asked in other judiciary exams. Which books did you refer for these? How did you prepare for these subjects?

This is a wrong notion. The OJS examination syllabus doesn’t have any local laws except the state law amendments in core law papers like the Procedural Law, Law of Property, etc., which the OJS aspirants ought to know and can be easily accessed from the bare acts even.

10. For how long did you prepare and how many hours did you put in?

I completed my graduation in 5 Years Integrated B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) in August 2018. The notification for the posts of Civil Judges by the Odisha Judicial Service Examination, 2018 got out in October 2018. I successfully applied for the same adhering to the fulfillment of the eligibility criteria. Meanwhile, I was preoccupied with my LL.M. curriculum as well as drafting works at the Chamber of a Senior Advocate, Orissa High Court. I revised all the bare acts in 2-3 days before the preliminary examinations scheduled to be held on January 13th, 2019. After qualifying the Odisha Judicial Services Preliminary Examinations, 2018 in January, 2019, I devoted almost 13-15 hours per day to level up the competition and fulfil my ambition.

11. Do you think if one is aiming for judiciary exams he/she should start preparing from the college itself? If yes, then what would be the strategy for the same?

Undoubtedly, yes! This is the only secret behind my success. I would focus on this more than anything as building firm foundations from Day 1 at the law school can give one the winning edge not just for the judiciary examinations, but for any aspect of law career. What can be better than utilizing complete 5 or 3 years building on the groundwork day by day? Nothing else can serve better in the preparations. The class-room lectures for me have paved the way to understanding law in the most effective way.

12. What were some challenges you faced/mistakes you made, and how did you overcome them?

I would admit to have challenges rather than any determined mistake during the course of my preparations for OJS. The toughest challenge before me during my preparation was striking a balance between my LL.M. curriculum and OJS preparation simultaneously with the same intensity and sincerity. In fact, I had my semester examinations of LL.M. continuing till the day before my Personal Interview/Viva-Voice in Odisha Judicial Services Examinations, 2018. I could efficiently and fortunately focus on time-management to put my passion into action for achieving my dreams. Another challenge was to cultivate the art of writing answers within the prescribed time-limit. I could effectively overcome this by understanding what to eliminate in the answers and focusing on the direct points as answers.

13. Did you take coaching from anywhere? If yes, how did it help? What are some good coaching institutes which candidates can go for?

I didn’t opt for any coaching. I devoted my passion for law by self-study and self-evolvement. So, I may not be the best judge of the modus operandi at the coaching institutes functional in the State and in the manner it aids in the preparation for the OJS aspirants.

14. How was your interview and what type of questions were asked?

My interview was interesting, brainstorming and wonderful. I faced 20 minutes of rapid-fire grilling of about 40 legal questions drawn towards my illustrative curriculum vitae and my academic credentials mentioned in the bio-data form for the Interview Board. They started with few ice-breaking questions to test my overall personality and nervousness level. The Interview Board had three interviewers. The Chairperson of the Board congratulated me by saying, “I must say, first, you’ve a lot of accolades to your credit. Congratulations! Well Done!” Thereafter, he asked me questions basing upon my diploma courses and expert certifications, namely, ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace’, ‘Sexual Violence against Children: Prevent, Protect and ‘, ‘Judicial Ethics and Accountability’ and ‘Environmental Law’. I was asked on the changes in Indian Criminal Law after the Nirbhaya Rape Case, admissibility of child witness, admissibility of deaf and dumb witness, cognizance taking, issuance of processes, production of documents to prove electronic evidence, limitation in criminal cases, detailed procedure for execution of decree, juvenile justice and changes in the JJ Act, difference between permanent injunction and perpetual injunction (to trick me, as both are the same), role of the Supreme Court in striking laws, gender bias, judicial review, granting of bail in serious offences, difference between lease and license, a complete discussion on the Sabarimala Judgement and many more. I was also put situational questions relating to some of the above-mentioned areas.

15. Anything else you’d like to tell our readers to crack Judiciary?

Before you decide to enter into this profession, refine your intentions of rendering justice and nothing more. Marvel at all possible opportunities related to law. This will shape your overall personality that will yield dividends in any preparations. Be a student till your last breath. All the best for all the future endeavors!

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