Difference between judge and magistrate

 · 6 mins read


In the judiciary, magistrates and judges seem to be the same, but this is not the case. There are distinctions, especially in the nature of their abilities. The judiciary is a legislative body that safeguards citizens’ rights. This is the ultimate authority when it comes to legal and constitutional issues. It is crucial in the enactment of laws and the resolution of conflicts between individuals, governments, and other parties. To protect citizens’ rights, the courts preserve law and order in the country. Judges preside over the Supreme Court, the High Court, and other lower courts. Judges do not have the same powers as magistrates; their authority is restricted. A magistrate’s jurisdiction is normally a district or a city.


The term “judge” comes from the Anglo-French word “juger,” which means “to shape an opinion on.” Also from the Latin ‘Judicare,’ which means ‘to judge, to test, to form an opinion on, and to pronounce judgment.’ A judge is a judicial officer who oversees court proceedings and is empowered to hear and rule on legal cases after weighing all relevant facts, testimony, and details. Depending on the jurisdiction, a judge’s authority, appointment, and duties can differ. A judge can decide cases on their own or with the help of a panel of judges. He serves as a mediator between the two sides, making a decision in court based on the testimony, facts, and evidence provided by the prosecution and defense attorneys. The president of India appoints the judges of the Supreme Court. He also appoints High Court judges after consulting with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the relevant state.


The word ‘magistrate’ comes from the old French word ‘magistrat,’ which means “civil officers in charge of enforcing laws” and “a magistrate, public machinery.” In 1772, Warren Hastings established the position of District Magistrate. A magistrate is a civil or minor judicial officer who administers the law in a specific region, such as a town or district. He treats court cases in the same way as a judge does, but he does not have the same authority. In comparison to the law enforcement powers possessed by a judge, the magistrate has fewer law enforcement powers. The Chief Executive, Administrative, and Revenue Officer is, without a doubt, the District Magistrate or District Collector. He provides the requisite coordination between the district’s various government agencies. There are various categories of magistrates:

  1. Judicial Magistrate: He or she is regulated by the Session Judge and reports to the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
  2. Chief Judicial Magistrate: In each district, the high court appoints a first-class judicial magistrate to serve as the chief judicial magistrate. He or she reports to the session judge.
  3. Metropolitan Magistrate: A Metropolitan Magistrate is a magistrate who is appointed for cities with populations of more than one million people. They are accountable to the chief metropolitan magistrate and report to the session judge.
  4. Executive Magistrate: They are named in the district at the state government’s discretion. Two of the executive magistrates are assigned to the positions of district magistrate and additional district magistrate.



A judge is an official who is responsible for deciding legal verdicts based on evidence presented in a court of law. The magistrate, on the other hand, is a regional judicial officer chosen by the high court judge. If one or more parties disagree with the decision, the case may be referred to the high court. The high court judge’s decision is binding and cannot be overturned. The magistrate’s jurisdiction is limited to the regional, state, and town levels, while the judge’s power of attribution of law practices for justice seekers extends to the entire country.The regional magistrate’s sentences cannot be more than seven years in jail.


The president of India appoints the judges, while the high court’s council of judges appoints the magistrates. However, the high court and the judge, who make the decision based on their detailed interpretation of the case matter and hearing of the parties concerned, have more control. The power of the judge cannot be questioned, but the power of the state magistrate can. As a result, the magistrate has less authority than the judge.


The magistrate’s decision is generally for small and trivial matters. They can also be illegal in nature. The majority of cases that make it to the High Court include criminal offenses. At the HighCourt, knowledge of the law is especially important. As a result, obtaining a law degree is the first step toward stepping into the shoes of a judge. Since the magistrate is appointed by the judge, a law degree is preferred but not required to serve as a magistrate.


Appointed byPresident and GovernorState Government and High Court
QualificationA degree or a masters in law is a mustLLB is not necessarily needed
JurisdictionNational level – larger areaState level – smaller area
CasesVery serious legal issuesMinor and local issues
PowerTop notch levelState level
VerdictHas the authority to impose a death penaltyDoes not have the authority to sentence anyone to death.
InternationalIn different nations, a judge has the same job description.In various nations, a magistrate can have different job descriptions.


In conclusion, a judge’s job responsibilities are universal, but the position of the magistrate varies slightly depending on the region. In order to streamline the case that enters the high court, the magistrate is assigned to resolve smaller or larger state-level issues in the state’s respective courts. The magistrates hear cases involving murders, frauds, divorce, family disputes, land disputes, and other matters. The magistrates are competent and effective in their duties. The length of time it takes for the appeal to be heard varies. Both the judge and the magistrate are vital law enforcers who work together to keep the country in a state of stability, justice, and care.


  1. JAVA T POINT, https://www.javatpoint.com/magistrate-vs-judge (last visited on Apr. 12, 2021).

  2. Shikha Goyal, What is the difference between Judge and Magistrate?, JAGRAN JOSH (Dec. 30, 2020, 11:18 AM).

  3. ASK ANY DIFFERENCE, https://askanydifference.com/difference-between-judge-and-magistrate/ (last visited on Apr. 12, 2021).

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