Careers Judiciary LawSikho (Featured) Uncategorized

What is the career trajectory of a judge in the lower judiciary

As a law student when you attend a court hearing, more often than not, you are fascinated by the power that the Judge emits. 

By the bang of a gavel, the court is silenced. 

Disrespecting the Judge can send you behind the prison. 

You cannot address the Judge with anything less than pure words of respect. 

But how do these Judges get to be where they are?

What is their career trajectory from a law student to Judges of the High Court and Supreme Court? 

Can you also become a Judge which brings respect, social status and several perks such as a bunglow, car and full time personal staff provided by the government?

A normal judiciary career trajectory looks like this:

Usually, judges who join the judiciary as a civil judge, junior division retire in the position of a district judge. 

There is a quota in the High Courts for district court judges for elevation. Thereafter they can also be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Here are some famous instances in the past where some Civil Judges have retired as Supreme Court Justices as well: 

  • Justice Prafulla Chandra Pant entered into Uttar Pradesh Judicial Service in the year 1976 (through Uttar Pradesh Munsif Services Examination, 1973) and retired as Supreme Court Judge in 2017. He is currently serving as the honourable member of the National Human Rights Commission of India from 2019. 
  • Justice M. Fathima Beevi – She began her career as the Munsiff in the Kerala Subordinate Judicial Services in May, 1958. She was promoted as the Subordinate Judge in 1968 and as the Chief Judicial Magistrate in 1972, as District & Sessions Judge in 1974. She was then elevated to the High Court as a Judge on 4 August 1983. She became permanent Judge of the High Court on 14 May 1984. She retired as the Judge of the High Court on 29 April 1989 but was further elevated to the Supreme Court as a Judge on 6 October 1989 where she retired on 29 April 1992.

How promotions happen to the High Court and Supreme court is rather well known. A collegium of senior judges decide to elevate judges based on seniority, track record and other factors. However, most people do not know about promotions in the lower judiciary.

Those who join the judiciary at a younger age have a better shot at getting elevated to a High Court and then Supreme Court.

Hence, cracking the exam in your earliest attempt to join the judiciary is important – it influences your career trajectory and where you will retire 30 or 35 years from now. 

However this is not the only way to become a High Court or a Supreme Court Judge – there is a component for appointment of practising advocates directly, without an entrance test and promotion as well. 

For the purpose of this conversation we will stick to the career progression in lower judiciary. 

Let’s understand the career progression in the lower judiciary

The lower judiciary broadly comprises of three cadres of judges – District Judges, Senior Civil Judges and Civil Judges (Junior Division).

Although they are termed as ‘Civil Judges’ their posts jointly include civil as well as criminal jurisdiction.

Recruitment for lower judiciary looks something like this:

Civil judge (junior division) 

  • Direct recruitment through judiciary exam.
  • Currently 24 states conduct judiciary examination in India 
  • Generally the recruitment process includes – preliminary examination, main examination and interview.
  • The minimum marks to qualify in the mains examination to be eligible for an interview vary from state to state, for example, in Haryana, the aggregate marks of all papers are required to be 50%, while in Telangana it is 55% for each paper, and 60% in aggregate score.
  • Minimum qualification marks are different for reserved category students. 
  • Criteria to become a judge is designed in such a way that local candidates have an advantage. 
  • Average time taken by all the states to complete one recruitment cycle is almost a year.

Civil judge (senior division) 

  • Recruitment to the cadre of Senior Civil Judges occurs through promotion from the Civil Judges (Junior Division) cadre on the basis of merit-cum-seniority.
  • Sometimes, the promotions are also made on the principle of merit (in Maharashtra) – accelerated promotion.
  • General eligibility for this position is 5 years of service in junior division.

District judge 

There are two ways to become a District Judge: 

Promotion (Regular or accelerated)

  • Regular promotion: The first is via promotion based on merit-cum-seniority from Civil Judges (Senior Division), who occupy the intermediate level between entering judicial officers and District Judges. 65% of the total strength of District Judges must be recruited in this manner which is also known as regular promotion. Usually, there is no requirement of a minimum number of years of service. But, some states have prescribed a minimum number of years of service in the previous office.
  • Accelerated promotion: The second method is via promotion based on merit, through competitive exams held among Civil Judges (Senior Division) with a minimum of five years of service and is also known as accelerated promotion. This accounts for 10% of the sanctioned strength for District Judge.

Direct recruitment

The final method of selection entails direct recruitment from advocates at the bar with a minimum of seven years’ practice. The quota for this is 25%.

The exact designation of posts under each of these cadres differs from state to state in their hierarchy and nomenclature. This divergence mainly stems from the inclusion of various categories of judges heading state specific special courts, tribunals and other officers.

For instance, while the Rajasthan Judicial Services Rules, 2010 includes even the Member Secretary of the Rajasthan Legal Services Authority, the Andhra Pradesh Judicial Service Rules, 2007 do not include this post in its definition of District Judges. 

So do you want to become a judge?


It’s going to be hard.

As per our calculation, more than 99.50% people fail to crack this exam despite multiple attempts. However, with LawSikho, you can be in the top 0.5%.

We have studied the pain points of judiciary aspirants from all over the country for a year and then launched a very powerful program that has been running very successfully for a year.

What is unique about LawSikho’s judiciary course (Lord of the Courses package)?

  • You can start preparing as early as you want. You can even start in first year of college. We then get more time to train you over the years.
  • You pay only once to LawSikho. So if you do not clear in first shot you get our help next year again without paying anything extra.
  • You can prepare for multiple states at once with us. No limitations on how many states you can study for. In most other judiciary course providers, they focus on maximum one or two states.
  • Attend live classes with trainers who have actually cleared judiciary exams themselves, and top lawyers with incredible qualifications.
  • Exhaustive repository of text and video materials to build your knowledge as per  state-specific exams.
  • When you think of an online course, you probably expect a very impersonal, hands off approach where you are expected to watch some videos and read some material and then take some automated tests. This course is not like that. While you can access it from anywhere, there are lots of live interaction plus one-to-one attention for every student.
  • Option to learn in English or Hindi as per your choice.
  • What if you don’t clear judicial services? Don’t worry, as a back up we will help you to prepare for a bunch of other government competitive exams such as SEBI law officers exam, UGC NET, CLAT PG, Supreme Court Law Clerk cum Research Assistant exam, All India Bar Exam.
  • While preparing for judicial services exam, you will develop very good knowledge of laws related to lower courts. However, you will lack practical knowledge like drafting, filing and registry work, litigation strategy, contract drafting etc. We also provide our judiciary students with this back up option, that if they are unable to clear judicial services they can become successful litigators, get well paid litigation jobs in good law firms.
  • Even while they are repeatedly attempting judicial services, they can start earning on the side. 
  • You get support from our placement cell for jobs and internships even while preparing for judicial services if you wish. 
  • Answer-writing practice and interview preparation from Day 1 to holistically develop your competence for mains exam and your personality for the interview stage.
  • Get feedback and corrections on your answers to improve your abilities week on week.
  • Prepare for language subjects (English or Hindi) and GK from your first day of training to maximise your marks.  
  • Regular calls with mentors to manage motivation levels and stick to your study schedule and get back on track if you fall off the bandwagon.
  • Extensive mock tests for prelims and mains exam to track your improvement every month and every quarter.
  • You do not have to relocate to a big city or travel to coaching for hours – save time and energy by attending live online classes of 8 hours every week (recordings are available if you miss the class).

Check it out here: Judiciary course.

Also, join our 4 day free judiciary test prep bootcamp to create your unstoppable strategy for cracking judiciary:

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