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Separation of Power

“Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely”

According to this rule, institutions of governance are separated into three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, each with its own set of autonomous powers and responsibilities, so that one department does not interfere with the operations of the other two. If this principle is not followed, there will be increased opportunities for power abuse and corruption. It aims for some power demarcation and tries to bring exclusivity in the operation of each organ.

The legislature is the body that makes laws, the executive is in charge of enforcing those laws, and the judiciary deals with cases that emerge from a violation of the law. As a result, they are all interconnected government organs, and their tasks and functions tend to overlap, as it is impossible to totally separate the three. A total separation of the three organs could result in a constitutional deadlock. As a result, total separation of powers is neither practicable nor desirable.

Montesquieu warned his countrymen about the dangers of vesting all the state power in one person or body of people. These words state the Doctrine of Separation of Powers as given by Montesquieu, “There would be an end of everything, were the same man or same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing laws, that of executing public resolutions, and of trying the causes of individuals.”

Checks And Balances

Under the system of checks and balances, each branch is given certain powers by which it may definitely restrain the others from exceeding constitutional authority. It may object or resist any encroachment upon its authority, or it may question, if necessary any act or acts which unlawfully interferes with its sphere of jurisdiction and authority. The balance is obtained in the functioning, if one oversteps the other will keep a check.

The executive, i.e. the President acting on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court along the collegium, appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and the State's High Courts. However, they may be removed from office only if Parliament impeaches them. This measure enables the judiciary to operate fearlessly in the face of the executive.

Similarly, the executive is accountable to Parliament for how it operates on a day-to-day basis. While the President picks the leader of the majority party or someone he believes commands a majority in the Lok Sabha (House of the People or Lower House), a government is required to relinquish power if the House passes a motion of no confidence in the administration.

Similarly, the judiciary uses the mechanism of Judicial Review to keep a check on the legislation passed by Parliament and executive acts, ensuring that they comply with the constitution. A law can be declared null and void if found unconstitutional.

As we can notice there’s no strict separation of powers but the functions of the different branches of the government should be sufficiently differentiated in order to cater to the needs of the society.

Recent issue: Hyper activism

Overzealous activism is counterproductive and even disruptive, but it is enabled by the Supreme Court's supreme authority granted to it under Article 142.

The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such orders as is necessary for doing complete justice in any case pending before it. Article 142 of the Constitution of India deals with the enforcement of such decrees and orders.

Legislators are responsible for enacting new legislation. As noted in the case of the Union of India vs. Devaki Nandan Agarwal, courts do not have legislative powers. Parliament and legislative assemblies have absolute authority to pass legislation. What does this mean in terms of the rule of law? Is the court, which is widely seen as the Constitution's guardian, actually abiding by the law itself?

Judges must exercise prudence and restraint. There are functional overlaps, no question, but courts should not exploit these gaps; the courts must work within the fair lines of their jurisdiction.


There have been numerous court rulings that indicate explicitly that the three branches of government should have a clear separation of powers and that no one branch should infringe on the authority of another. If this happens, the Constitution's delicate balance is disrupted and anarchy ensues.

It's imperative that all branches of the government work together in harmony. The goal is the welfare of all.


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