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Why We Need a Power Balance: Separation of Power

A lack of faith, a lack of accountability, and the buildup of forces from various organs can result from the concentration of power in a small number of hands, which can impact the nation's overall development. Charles de Montesquieu is credited with coining the phrase "separation of powers." According to this theory, the State is normally composed of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, collectively referred to as the "trias politica," each of which has its own distinct roles, authority, and duties.

Reducing conflicts of interest amongst various organs is the goal of implementing separation of powers. By holding each component responsible for their own actions and assisting in the mutual reinforcement of democracy, it offers a crucial mechanism for preventing the misuse of power.

Because it offers a vital system of checks and balances that prohibit the concentration of authority, the separation of powers is crucial. It aids in the eradication of tyranny, authoritarianism, and arbitrariness and supports a democratic and responsible system of governance. It strengthens the responsibility and authority that various branches have over one another, or "the checks." It is referred to as "balancing" because it distributes power throughout the many branches of government rather than concentrating it in one place. It stops power abuse and protects everyone's freedom since unchecked power in the hands of one individual or organization can result in the repression of others and the limitation of their rights and freedoms.

It imposes restrictions on the abuse of authority within the several branches of government by clearly defining the bounds and restrictions of each branch. In order to increase and improve the effectiveness of the government, it also permits each of the three branches to focus on their own areas of expertise. According to this theory, one branch of government might usurp the authority of another. As a result, the idea of the separation of powers is regarded as a fundamental component of democracy since it guards against the abuse of authority and advances equality and liberty.

Polybius was the one who originally devised and introduced the idea of separation of powers in ancient Greece. This thought came into being as a result of political and intellectual progress. The Roman Republic afterwards adopted this practice as well. The founding fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to begin drafting the United States Constitution. There, the majority of the members endorsed the idea of the separation of powers as a fundamental political maxim. Greek philosopher and Plato's pupil Aristotle defined the three branches of government in his work "The Politics," which included the judiciary, public officials, and general assembly.

Philosophers John Locke of Britain and Jean Bodin of France discussed their opinions on the division of power in the 16th and 17th century. In Europe, the concept of a nation-state began to take shape when the Roman Empire crumbled. John Locke provided the theory of three departments of government-legislative, executive, and federal-in his work "Two Treatises of Government (1689)" as time passed and the English Parliament was established in the 17th century. These three branches were not permitted to operate independently or as co-equals. Since England had a dual system of government at the time, the legislative branch was seen as the supreme, and the monarch was in charge of the other two branches.

But in his 1748 publication "Spirit of the Laws," Baron De Montesquieu was the first to methodically hone and codify this idea. His approach was founded on a fuller comprehension of the English legal system, which distinguished between the three parts and granted the Judiciary independent authority. He wrote: "There can be no liberty when the legislative and executive branches are merged in one person or body. This is because there may be fear that the senate or the sane monarch may pass oppressive laws and carry them out in an oppressive way.

Once more, if the judicial branch is not independent of the legislative and executive branches, then liberty does not exist. If it were combined with the legislative branch, the subject's life and liberty would be vulnerable to capricious control, as the judge would then serve as the legislator. If it were connected to the executive branch, the judge might act in an oppressive and violent manner. If the same person or group, whether nobility or populace, were to exercise all three functions-making laws, carrying out public decrees, and adjudicating individual cases-everything would come to an end."

According to Montesquieu, the Parliament would never act arbitrarily and would never cede its legislative authority to the King. He comprehended judicial capabilities, such as the ability to decide civil and criminal cases, but he made reference to the general will of the State when explaining legislative powers.

The applicability of this idea can be traced back to ancient India. It is ingrained in the Vedas, where the Senapati upheld law and order while the Diwan held executive authority. However, as the King was the ultimate authority who crafted the laws resembling our current Legislature, all these offices were subservient to him.

Relevant Articles:
  • Article 50 lays forth the principles of "natural justice." It addresses the Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not upheld by the judiciary, and it instructs the government on how to protect the independence of the judiciary (the lower judiciary) from the executive branch, particularly with regard to judicial appointments.
  • The Indian Constitution's Articles 121 and 211 stipulate that the State Legislature and Parliament cannot debate the actions of the High Court or judges' judicial conduct, unless a judge is being removed.
  • The Indian Constitution's Articles 122 and 212 prohibit courts from prying into the workings of the State Legislature and Parliament by stating that the rule of legislatures containing procedures is immune from judicial scrutiny.

Case Laws:
A seven-judge Supreme Court bench based its decision in Re Delhi Laws Act on the idea that two bodies shouldn't carry out tasks that fundamentally belong to one of them. The court decided that although though our Constitution does not specifically define the idea of separation of powers, it is clear in some unique situations. Additionally, a distinct division was drawn between the various authorities, duties, and domains of the three independent branches of government-the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendulkar: The esteemed Chief Justice SR Das expressed his opinion that the American Constitution contains provisions for the separation of powers, even in cases where our Constitution does not. Nonetheless, our Constitution implicitly recognizes a certain allocation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Keshav Singh v. Legislative Assembly Speaker: The state legislature is prohibited by Article 211 from debating the behaviour of a High Court judge, the Supreme Court argued, citing the theory of separation of powers. The fundamental basis of the Indian Constitution is a courageous and independent judiciary, which denies the Legislature any authority to act.

The idea of the separation of powers is not rigorously upheld in India. Rather, it is understood and employed as the Doctrinal Division of Functions, which implies that, however rigorously and theoretically, the Legislature should only create laws, the Judiciary should only interpret them, and the executive must only carry out or execute them. However, there are many gray areas where the authority of the administration, legislature, and judiciary overlaps when this power is actually used.

These three areas of government must work together and cooperatively for any government to function smoothly. Roy Moore has repeatedly stated that "The basic premise of the Constitution was the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances because the man was seen as a fallen creature and would always yawn to gain more power."

This theory, in my opinion, is a crucial component of the Constitution since it safeguards individual liberties and aids in our transition away from the monarchical system.

Written By: Akanksha

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