Judicial Magistrate in India: Role, Opportunities, Categories in Magistrate, Magistrate 1st Class, Career

Updated Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:51 PM IST

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The judiciary refers to a constitutional body which protects the rights and interests of citizens. This is the ultimate authority which elucidates the legal matters and constitutional arrangements. Judiciary, therefore, plays a crucial role in enacting laws and making decisions on disputes between citizens, states and other parties. Courts not only maintain law and order in the country but also protect the rights of the citizens. The heads of the Supreme Court, High Court and other subordinate courts are termed as judges.

Source: safalta

Hence, there is a clear difference between judges and magistrates as the power of magistrate is relatively less than the judge. The magistrate is usually assigned a district or a city. 

Hence, a magistrate is referred to a civil servant who supervises the law in a particular district or city. A magistrate is also a person who listens to civil or criminal matters and makes a decision regarding the same. District Magistrate or District Collector is also termed as the Chief Executive, Administrative and Revenue Officer. He is the one who establishes necessary coordination between various government agencies working in a particular district.

Role of a Magistrate

He is the one who makes decisions on small or minor matters. He is the one who gives initial decisions in criminal cases and therefore, they are also called like the fact-finding courts because they deal first hand with the complainant of the case it’s witnesses and the accused. 

Magistrates have more powers than an administrator on one hand and on the other, he has limited jurisdiction over a judge. The High Court appoints the Judicial Magistrate and Chief Judicial Magistrate while the Governor appoints the District Magistrate. Magistrate also has the authority to impose fines and imprisonment for a specific period. On the other hand, the magistrate is like an administrator who takes care of the law and order in a particular area. 

Who is called Magistrate First class in India?

Magistrates of a Group-A Category with judicial powers are called Magistrate of first Class. District magistrates as Magistrates of First Class. 
Each Subdivision is assigned to an officer designated as a Subdivisional Magistrate (S.D.M.) or Deputy Collector who is also the member of the State Civil Services cadre. These subdivisions are further divided into various Tehsils or Talukas. SDM's in Sub-Divisions are normally referred to as the 2nd Class and the tehsildars in a state are called as the 3rd Class magistrates.
The primary function of district magistrate (DM) is maintaining law, order and safety in the district. Since District Collectors also have executive magisterial powers, this post is also termed as the District Magistrate.
A judicial magistrate first class has the power to sentence a person to jail for up to three years and impose a fine of up to Rs 5,000.
A judicial magistrate second class has the power to sentence a person to jail for up to one year and impose a fine of up to Rs 3,000.
There are four types of magistrates in India. This classification is given in the Criminal Procedure Code CrPC, 1973. It stipulates that in each sessions district, there shall be

1.A Chief Judicial Magistrate

2.Judicial Magistrates First Class;

3.Judicial Magistrates Second Class; and

4.Executive Magistrates

"Chief Judicial Magistrate" also includes Additional Chief Judicial magistrates. There is a Sub Divisional Judicial magistrate in every Sub Division (SDJM) although he is technically only a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC). Judicial Magistrates can try criminal cases.

An Executive Magistrate is an officer of the Executive branch (as opposed to the Judicial branch) who is assigned with specific powers under both the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These powers are conferred in the main by the following sections of the CrPC: sections 107-110 and the relevant provisions; section 133 and section 144 and the relevant provisions, section 145& 147 and the relevant provisions. These officers cannot try any accused nor have the power to pass any verdicts.

A person who is arrested on the orders of a court located outside the local jurisdiction should be produced before an Executive Magistrate who has the authority to set the bail amount for the accused to avoid police custody, depending on the terms of the warrant.


As service holders in State, Judicial Services magistrates are posted as Presiding officers of criminal and/civil courts/tribunals/ Endowment Commissions etc. These kinds of postings usually encompass carrying out sovereign judicial functions. A magistrate of 1st class also gets postings in State/District Legal Services Authority, wherein a magistrate acts as facilitators in areas such as alternative dispute resolution and grassroots level legal awareness. They also get postings such as Registrars of district courts, High court, protocol officers, etc. Thus, magistrates service avenue is diverse in nature as opposed to popular belief. Magistrate also gets the opportunity in the due service of being the High court judge and in certain cases supreme court judges as well. It depends on the hard work and dedication that one's put into it.

Related career option of Magistrate 1st class 

They also have the opportunity of assistant public prosecutors who are recruited by way of competitive exams held by the State Public Service Commissions. One also has the chances of being a Judge and Advocate-General which is held by the Indian National Army. So, they act as the legal branch of the Indian Army and look after military-related disciplinary proceedings and litigation matters. 
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