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Difference between Magistrate and Judge

The terms Judge and Magistrate may seem interchangeable or you may think that they refer to the same person but they have different meanings and refer to different designations. Let us see how a magistrate differs from a judge!

Magistrate:

A magistrate is a minor judicial officer or a civil officer who administers the law in a particular area like a town, district etc. He handles legal cases just like a judge but does not have as much power as a judge. The magistrate has limited law enforcement powers as compared to the law enforcement powers exercised by a judge. There are different types of magistrates such as:

  • Judicial Magistrate: He or she is subordinate to the Chief Judicial Magistrate and is governed by the Session Judge.
  • Chief Judicial Magistrate: The high court appoints a first class judicial magistrate as the chief judicial magistrate in every district. He or she is subordinate to session judge.
  • Metropolitan Magistrate: The magistrate appointed for the towns whose population is more than one million is called Metropolitan Magistrate. They report to session judge and are subordinate to the chief metropolitan magistrate.
  • Executive Magistrate: They are appointed in the district as per the discretion of the state government. Two of the executive magistrates are appointed as a district magistrate and as an additional district magistrate.

Judge:

A Judge is a judicial officer who administers court proceedings and is authorized to hear and give a judgment on the legal cases after considering the facts, evidence and information related to the case. The power, appointment and functions of a judge may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

A judge handles cases either alone or with a panel of judges. He acts as an arbitrator between the two parties and makes a judgment in the trail after taking into account the witnesses, facts, and the evidences presented by the prosecution and defence lawyers.

The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president of India. He also appoints the judges of the High Court after consulting the Chief Justice of India and Governor of the respective state.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between Magistrate and Judge are as follows:

Magistrate Judge
A magistrate is a minor judicial officer or a civil officer of a state who handles minor cases in a specific area like a town, district etc. A Judge is a judicial officer who administers court proceedings and gives the judgment on the legal cases after analyzing the facts and evidence related to the case.
A magistrate has less power than a Judge. A judge has more power than a magistrate.
A magistrate may not have a law degree. He or she is always an officer with a law degree.
He or she handles minor cases. He or she handles complex cases.
He or she has a smaller jurisdiction than a judge. He or she has an expansive jurisdiction.
The term judge is derived from an English word "Magistrat". The term judge is derived from a French word "juger".
A magistrate may have different job descriptions in different countries. A judge has same job descriptions in different countries.
He or she is appointed by the high court and state government. He is appointed by the president of India.
He does not have the power to give life imprisonment or death sentence. A judge has the power to give life imprisonment or death sentence.
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