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Understanding the Difference Between a Judge and a Justice

Are you curious about the difference between the terms "Judge" and "Justice"? This question is often encountered in judiciary examinations, and aspiring judges must not only know the answer but also understand the nuances. Here, we clarify these terms to help you be well-informed.

Judge vs. Justice: An Overview

"Judge" and "Justice" are terms frequently used in the judicial system. While both roles involve presiding over courts, they differ significantly in terms of jurisdiction, appointment, and responsibilities. Let’s explore these differences.

Who is a Judge?

A judge is the presiding officer of a subordinate court, typically found in district courts. Judges oversee trials, make legal decisions, and determine the punishment for those found guilty of crimes.

  • Appointment: Judges are usually appointed by the governor in consultation with the high court. There are two main pathways to becoming a judge: practicing as an advocate for over seven years or being selected through a competitive examination by the state commission or high courts.

  • Responsibilities: Judges conduct trials, resolve disputes based on facts and laws, and their decisions, although final within their jurisdiction, can be appealed in higher courts.

Who is a Justice?

A justice is the presiding officer of a superior court, such as a high court or the Supreme Court.

  • Appointment: Justices are appointed by the president based on the recommendation of the collegium, which consists of the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India. Candidates can be selected from the district judiciary or from advocates with at least fifteen years of litigation experience in high courts or the Supreme Court.

  • Responsibilities: Justices have the authority to review, modify, or overturn lower court decisions. While high courts and the Supreme Court may operate concurrently, high court decisions are not binding on the Supreme Court.


Key Differences Between a Judge and a Justice





Presides over lower/subordinate courts

Presides over higher courts (High Court and Supreme Court)


Limited to local territorial boundaries and subject matter

High Court jurisdiction is state-specific; Supreme Court's jurisdiction is nationwide

Appointing Authority

Governor, Commission, or High Court via Competitive Examination

President based on collegium’s recommendation


Minimum of 7 years of practice (not mandatory for judicial examination candidates)

Minimum of 10 years of practice as an advocate; High Court judges need 5 years of experience for Supreme Court appointment


Involves examining witnesses and evidence

Involves reviewing legal arguments presented by advocates

Scope of Power

Statutory provisions restrict their authority

Granted extensive authority to administer justice

Binding Precedential Value

Bound by decisions of higher courts

High Court justices are bound by Supreme Court decisions; Supreme Court decisions have persuasive value


Can be removed following an inquiry based on high court recommendations, subject to appeal

Removed through impeachment as per the Constitution, which is final and binding


Decides rights and liabilities based on facts and laws

Interprets laws and decides their applicability

Interpretation Power

Limited to applying existing laws

Interprets and decides the relevance and application of laws


The roles of judges and justices are crucial in administering justice and maintaining law and order. Despite their hierarchical differences, both play essential roles in the judicial system. Understanding these distinctions is vital for judiciary aspirants and anyone interested in the legal field.


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