What is the Difference Between Higher Judiciary and Lower Judiciary?


Hey, aspirants! Welcome to Lawctopus’ Judiciary Corner.

There are different ways to become a judge in India. At the lowest level, we have lower judicial exams for the Civil Judges (Junior Division)/Judicial Magistrate II class. Moving up, we have higher judiciary exams for filling the posts of Additional District Judge & Session Judge. 

So does that mean one judge is better than the other? 

Of course not. The key difference between lower and higher judiciary judges is the distribution of power related to jurisdiction, sentencing, and passing of orders.

This article will explain the distinction between higher judiciary and lower judiciary, the examination process, powers, and salary.

Let’s begin!

Difference Between Higher Judiciary and Lower Judiciary


For lower judiciary, the candidate must have attained the age of 22 with no prior work experience/practice. Whereas, for higher judiciary the minimum age is 35 with seven years of experience as an advocate.

Examination Process

Speaking of the examination process, it is similar for both exam. These exams happen in three stages, i.e., Prelims, Mains, and Interviews. Only the examination syllabus is different and varies from state to state. However, the difficulty level is certainly more in higher judiciary in comparison to lower judiciary.

To know more about various lower judiciary exams, visit Judiciary Corner.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Judge

It is obvious that the hierarchy of judicial structure has demarcated the roles and responsibilities between the two, one having more jurisdiction and power than the other.

For example, the Judicial Magistrate II class has the power to pass a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding one year, or of fine not exceeding five thousand rupees or both. A Sessions judge has the power to pass any sentence authorized by law. However, any death sentence passed by any such Judge shall be subject to confirmation by the High Court.

Promotion of Judges

There are two ways an advocate can become a judge. First, take the Judicial Services Examination (PCS(J)) conducted yearly by various states. If not, then practice for seven years as an advocate and appear for the Higher Judiciary exam.

The other way is through promotion. It has been decided by the Supreme Court of India that Civil Judges with seven years of qualifying service (five years as Civil Judge (Junior Division) and two years as Civil Judge (Senior Division)) or 10 years of qualifying service as Civil Judge (Junior Division) are eligible for promotion as District Judges. 

This promotion is strictly based on merit through LDCE.

Salaries of Judges

The starting salary of a Civil Judge (Junior Division)/Judicial Magistrate is Rs. 27,700-770 to Rs. 33,090-920 and can be scaled up to Rs. 40,450-1080 to Rs. 44,770. 

Please note that the salary differs from state to state. In Delhi, the salary given after clearing Higher Judicial Services Examination is Rs. 131100-2166000.

5-year LLB at UPES. #25 NIRF. Amongst Top 10 Private Law Colleges in India. Apply Now!

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