Difference Between Judge and Magistrate

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

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

Judge vs Magistrate

The difference between Judge and Magistrate is that at the level of Judge, they are responsible to make crucial decisions about the nation, pending cases, criminal cases, maintain the constitutional practices and more. The magistrate is usually appointed by the judge and they operate at the State level.

Judge vs Magistrate

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

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonJudgeMagistrate
Appointed byThe President and the GovernorState Government and the High Court
QualificationMust have a degree or master in lawNot necessarily need an LLB
JurisdictionLarger area- Mostly NationalSmaller- at a State Level
CasesVery serious 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 a French word ‘jugier’ which means ‘judicare’ or ‘to judge’. A judge is appointed by the President of India after a discussion with the Chief Justice of India and the Governors of all the States of India.

The judge is responsible to factually evaluate the 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 plays the role of an arbitrator between the parties that need justice.

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


Who is Magistrate?

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

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

The magistrate is usually appointed by the judge. 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. While 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 is elected by the judge of the high court.

The verdicts given by the regional magistrate cannot be above seven years of imprisonment. The region 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 jurisdiction of the magistrate is at the regional, state and town level while the Judge far sees the whole nation under their power of attribution of law practices for justice seekers.

Appointment and Power

The appointment of the Judge is done by the president of India while the appointment of the magistrate is done by the panel of judges of the high court.

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 power of the judge 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 criminal in nature too.

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

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

Difference Between Judge and Magistrate


  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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