images (7)

In this blogpost, Haridya Iyengar, Student, Jindal Global Law School, Haryana, writes about the difference between trial by jury and trial by a judge stating the advantages and disadvantages of both.

This paper will seek to explain the difference between the jury system and judge system. It will do this by looking at the structure and the pros and cons of each system.

 Difference between Jury and Judge System

When deciding a legal issue between two parties, the state has to implicitly or explicitly choose individuals to give judgement. There are two systems which can be used to pick these individuals – the jury system and judge system.

Download Now

The Jury System

A jury composed of the members of the community is present at the trial to act as fact finders.  Either 5, 10 or 15 members are picked randomly from the voter list of all adult citizens in that district or state. In this system, the jury listens to arguments and looks at the evidence given by each side. After both sides are done presenting, the jury bases its decision on how persuasive each side’s evidence is. While the final decision is taken by the jury, the judge still handles the questions of law and procedure during the trial.

The Judge System

Trial by judge or bench trial take place only in front of the judge, there is no jury. The judges are appointed by the state to resolve issues. The judge plays the role of fact finder and the ruler of procedure and matters of law. So, the judge decides the credibility of evidence as well as what happens at the trial according to the rule of law and procedure.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both the jury system and the bench system have their pros and cons. It is important to look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of these systems. Since trial by judges might be beneficial in one case while, trial by jury might beneficial in another.

The Jury System

While the jury system was abolished after KM Nanawati Vs. The State of Maharashtra, it does have many advantages. Firstly, the evidence presented needs to convince 12 different jurors for each case. This helps introduce 12 new perspectives to the case making it more decisive. Secondly, it reduces the effect of criminal creating judge nexus. It is hard for criminals to create a nexus with the jury members since members are picked at random from the district. Thirdly, it ensures societal participation in the judicial system. Fourthly, the jury system is democratic. The verdict given by the jury is made through a democratic vote. Finally, this prevents lawyer-judge nexus. The random selection of jurors helps prevent lawyers from creating an advantageous nexus which influences his arguments.

While the jury system has advantages, it has also been heavily criticised. The biggest disadvantage came to light after KM Nanawati Vs. The State of Maharashtra. It was seen that the jury was often biased because it based its decision on popular media notion which, could completely deter the notion of a fair trial. This was because the jury consists mostly of people who are not related to the legal system. In the Nanawati case, the jury wrongfully acquitted the plaintiff because of media and public support in favour of Nanawati.
Another disadvantage of the jury system is that they are influenced more by sentiments and prejudices rather than law. While the judges ask the jury members to act impartially and impersonally, this is rarely the case. It rarely tends to apply the law and is emotionally swayed. The jury system is also a very slow process. The selection of jurors tends to take a long time.

The Judge System

The judge system or bench system is currently being followed in India. The judge system has various merits which help the Indian courts decide cases effectively. Firstly, the judge system is supposed to be speedier than a jury trial. Unlike jury trial, there does not have to be a selection procedure for each case. Judges are appointed by the state to decide the cases. Secondly, judges have years of training and experience. A judge is an expert both in law and in working out the truth. Thirdly, judges because of years spent gathering legal knowledge can solve complex issues more effectively. Finally, the bench system is cost effective. Since the bench system does not require the lengthy process of a witness interview, impartial jury selection and cross-examination the cost borne by the parties are less.

However, the bench system is not without its disadvantages. Firstly, there are chances of lawyer-judge nexus being established. If a lawyer makes a nexus with a judge during the trial of a case that nexus will certainly be useful to that lawyer in future cases that comes up before the judge. Secondly, judges can be very objective while deciding a case which, leads to a harsh decisions. Finally, a judge only trial is disadvantageous from the defendant’s perspective in a criminal case. In a jury trial for a criminal case to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there needs to be a unanimous vote. Even if the defendant convinces one of the jurors to vote against the conviction, he is not held guilty. In the bench system, however, if the majority votes for a conviction then the defendant is held guilty.


Both the jury system and the bench system have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, reviving the jury system in India might be a mistake since the court already has approximately 3 crore cases pending. The jury system will only further delay the process of deciding these cases.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here