The concept of separation of powers refers to a system of government in which the powers are divided among multiple branches of the government, each branch controlling different facet of government. In most of the democratic countries, it is accepted that the three branches are the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. According to this theory, the powers and the functions of these branches must be distinct and separated in a free democracy. These organs work and perform their functions independently without the interference of one into others in order to avoid any kind of conflict. It means that the executive cannot exercise legislative and judicial powers, the legislature cannot exercise executive and judicial powers and the judiciary cannot exercise legislative and executive powers.
Three Organs of Government
1. Legislature: The chief function of the legislature is to enact laws
It is the basis for the functioning of the other two organs, the executive and the judiciary.
It is also sometimes accorded the first place among the three organs because until and unless laws are enacted, there can be no implementation and application of laws.
2. Executive: The executive is the organ that implements the laws enacted by the legislature and enforces the will of the state.
It is the administrative head of the government.
Ministers including the Prime/Chief Ministers and President/Governors form part of the executive.
3. Judiciary: The judiciary is that branch of the government that interprets the law, settles disputes and administers justice to all citizens.
The judiciary is considered the watchdog of democracy, and also the guardian of the Constitution.
It comprises of the Supreme Court, the High Courts, District and other subordinate courts.
Meaning Of Separation of Powers
Separation of powers divides the mechanism of governance into three branches i.e. Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. Although different authors give different definitions, in general, we can frame three features of this doctrine.
1. Each organ should have different persons in capacity, i.e., a person with a function in one organ should not be a part of another organ.
2. One organ should not interfere in the functioning of the other organs.
3. One organ should not exercise a function of another organ (they should stick to their mandate only).
Thus, these broad spheres are determined, but in a complex country like India there often arises conflict and transgression by one branch over the other.
Significance of the Doctrine
This principle ensures that autocracy does not creep into a democratic system. It protects citizens from arbitrary rule. Hence, the importance of the Separation of Powers doctrine can be summed up as follows:
• Keeps away autocracy
• Safeguards individual liberty
• Helps create an efficient administration
• Judiciary’s independence is maintained
• Prevents the legislature from enacting arbitrary or unconstitutional laws.
Constitutional Status of Separation of Powers in India
Under the Indian Constitution:
Legislature- Parliament ( Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), State legislative bodies.
Executive- At the central level- President, at the state level- Governor.
Judiciary- Supreme Court, High Court and all other subordinate courts.
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