Difference Between Judge and Magistrate

It’s a common misunderstanding in the layman’s language that the term Judge and Magistrate are synonymous. It is not so.


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A judge is a lawyer by their degree and long records of law service.

Key Takeaways

  1. Judge is a legal professional who presides over court proceedings and renders judgments based on the law.
  2. A magistrate is a judicial officer with limited jurisdiction over certain cases and performs administrative functions.
  3. Judge has broader jurisdiction and more authority than a magistrate and can hear a more comprehensive range of cases.

Judge vs Magistrate

A judge is a legal professional who presides over a court of law and is responsible for making legal decisions. They must have a law degree and several years of legal experience. A magistrate is a legal professional who presides over a court of law and is responsible for making decisions in certain types of cases.

Judge vs Magistrate

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The Judge works at the national level. In short, the magistrate looks after a limited domain, whereas the judge handles the law enforcement powers at the jurisdiction level.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonJudgeMagistrate
Appointed byThe President and the GovernorState Government and the High Court
QualificationMust have a degree or master’s in lawYou do not necessarily need an LLB
JurisdictionLarger area- Mostly NationalMore minor- at a State Level
Cases legal battlesLocal and minor cases
PowerYes –at a top-notch levelYes, but at the local level, only
VerdictThe judge has the power to give a death sentenceA magistrate does not have the power to give a death sentence.

Who is Judge?

The word Judge has derived its roots from the French word ‘jugier’, which means ‘judicare’ or ‘to judge’. The President of India appoints a judge after discussing with the Chief Justice of India and the Governors of all the States of India.

The judge is responsible for factually evaluating legal cases through court proceedings.

The judge has the power to decide the verdict of the legal case, but that is done through a panel of judges. In short, the judge is an arbitrator between the parties that need justice.

The trial prosecution, defence lawyer and the arguments at play are heavily understood, evaluated, discussed and pronounced a future through the books of law.


Who is Magistrate?

Magistrate has derived its roots from the Latin word ‘magister’, which means to administer the laws. The magistrate is a minor judicial officer who maintains the laws and order in a particular area, district, town or locality.

A magistrate hears cases that are civil or criminal at a state level.

The judge usually appoints the magistrate. As understood death sentence can be given by the judge only. The magistrate only has the right to give a sentence of imprisonment only.

There are few subordinate duties to be known;

The Executive Magistrate is appointed district-wise, while the metropolitan magistrate is appointed at a town level.

The metropolitan magistrate from the town reports to the Chief Judicial officer. At the same time, the Chief Judicial officer is appointed directly by the high court at each district level.

The chief judicial magistrate does have the power to impose a fine and give a sentence of imprisonment, not more than seven years.

Subordinate to the Chief Judicial Magistrate is the judicial magistrate that functions with close contact with the High Court. The judicial magistrate has the right to give imprisonment of one year only.


Main Differences Between Judge and Magistrate

Jurisdiction and Verdict  

A judge is an officer that responsibly arbitrates law verdicts based on the hearing in the court of law. The magistrate, on the other hand, is a regional judicial officer who the judge of the high court elects.

The verdicts given by the regional magistrate cannot be above seven years of imprisonment. The regional cases can be moved to the high court if one or more party has a problem with the verdict.

The verdict of the Judge at the high court is final and cannot be challenged.

The magistrate’s jurisdiction is at the regional, state and town level while the Judge far sees the whole nation under their power of attributing law practices to justice seekers.

Appointment and Power

The appointment of the Judge is made by the president of India, while the panel makes the magistrate’s appointment of high court judges.

But obviously, the power is more in the hands of the high court and the judge who takes the call through their thorough understanding of the case matter and hearing of the parties involved.

The judge’s power cannot be cross-checked, but the state magistrate level can be challenged. That means the magistrate has lesser power than the judge.

Qualification and Cases

The judgment passed by the magistrate is usually for small and minor cases. They can be criminals too.

The cases that reach the High Court are mainly criminal offenses in nature. Understanding the law, in particular, is crucial at the high court.

Hence a law degree is the first milestone to wear while in the shoes of the Judge. The judge appoints the magistrate; hence a law degree is appreciated but not crucial to operate as a magistrate.

Difference Between X and Y 8
  1. https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1300&context=ndjlepp
  2. https://www.littler.com/files/romanian_judges_forum.pdf
  3. https://www.fclr.org/fclr/articles/html/1999/fedctslrev4.pdf
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