Difference Between Judge and Magistrate (With Table)

Judge vs 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.

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.

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 Between Judge and Magistrate (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonJudge Magistrate
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.

How a judge looks like

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.

Difference Between Duties and Responsibilities (With Table)
The magistrate is the local judicial officer

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.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Judge and Magistrate

  1. Is a magistrate a lawyer?

    No, a magistrate is not the same as the lawyer. A lawyer is a professionally qualified person who holds a degree with experience.

    On the contrary, magistrates are the authority who preside over trials and hearings and are the judicial officers.

    Lawyers are the one who represents a party who is involved in a crime or is a victim. Magistrates are the ones who can give their opinion on that particular matter to the judge.

  2. How is a magistrate appointed?

    A magistrate is appointed by the judges of the high court of a state. A magistrate is the regional judicial officer who is authorized for trials and hearings.

    The High Court appoints the Judicial Magistrate and Chief Judicial Magistrate, but the District Magistrate is appointed by the Governor.

  3. Can a magistrate become a judge?

    No, a magistrate cannot be a judge as there is no requirement for the magistrate to have a legal degree.

    But for the judge, it is mandatory by the laws that a judge must have a legal degree and experience in advocacy.

    Hence, a magistrate who does not have a legal degree cannot be a judge.

  4. Can Judge suspend police?

    No, a judge cannot suspend a police officer directly. But a judge can suspend a police officer if the police officer is found guilty for wrong actions during the proceeding of a case.

  5. What does a presiding judge do?

    A presiding judge has to be present in every meeting of the case. He has to listen to both parties regarding a case and have to share his thoughts and opinions.

    He should make a fair decision after listening to both parties. His opinions and thoughts should be justified for the decision.

  6. How many types of judges are there?

    In India, there are three levels of courts and three levels of judges. The three levels of courts and judges are:
    Supreme Court Judge: This is the highest and national level of court in the Indian juridical system.
    High Court Judge: This is the state level of Indian court guided by the Supreme Court.
    District Court Judge: This is the district level of Indian court covered by the administrative power of the High Court.

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A judge universally has the same job roles but the role of the magistrate slightly varies at each country level.

The magistrate is appointed to handle the smaller or bigger state-level issues at the State’s respective courts in order to streamline the case that reaches the high court.

Cases of crimes, frauds, divorce, family disputes, property issues, and other cases are heard by the magistrates.

The magistrates are well capable and very efficient in their work. The time frame of the case to be heard depends.

The judge and the magistrate both are very important law binders who work collectively to maintain the continuum of peace, justice, and care in the nation.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Judge and Magistrate

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Judge and Magistrate. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Judge and Magistrate
Word Cloud for Judge and Magistrate



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  5. https://www.fclr.org/fclr/articles/html/1999/fedctslrev4.pdf