Separation of Power in Indian Constitution

There are three distinct activities in every government through which the will of the people are expressed. These are the legislative, executive and judicial functions of the government. Corresponding to these three activities are three organs of the government, namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The legislative organ of the state makes laws, the executive enforces them and the judiciary applies them to the specific cases arising out of the breach of law. Each organ while performing its activities tends to interfere in the sphere of working of another functionary because a strict demarcation of functions is not possible in their dealings with the general public. Thus, even when acting in ambit of their own power, overlapping functions tend to appear amongst these organs.

The question which assumes significance over here is that what should be the relation among these three organs of the state. Whether there should be complete separation of powers or there should be co-ordination among them. Though, just like American constitution, in Indian constitution also, there is express mention that the executive power of the Union and of a State is vested by the constitution in the President and the Governor, respectively, by articles 53(1) and 154(1), but there is no corresponding provision vesting the legislative and judicial powers in any particular organ. It has accordingly been held that there is no rigid separation of powers. Although prima facie it appears that our constitution has based itself upon doctrine of separation of powers.

Judiciary is independent in its field and there can be no interference with its judicial functions either by the executive or the legislature. Constitution restricts the discussion of the conduct of any judge in the Parliament. The High Courts and the Supreme Court has been given the power of judicial review and they can declare any law passed by parliament as unconstitutional. The judges of the S.C. are appointed by the President in consultation with the CJI and judges of the S.C. The S.C. has power to make Rules for efficient conduction of business .It is noteworthy that Article . 50 of the constitution puts an obligation over state to take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive. But, since it is a DPSP, therefore it’s unenforceable. In a similar fashion certain constitutional provisions also provide for Powers, Privileges and Immunities to the MPs , Immunity from judicial scrutiny into the proceedings of the house , etc. Such provisions are thereby making legislature independent, in a way. The Constitution provides for conferment of executive power on the President. His powers and functions are enumerated in the constitution itself. The President and the Governor enjoy immunity from civil and criminal liabilities.

But, if studied carefully, it is clear that doctrine of separation of powers has not been accepted in India in its strict sense. The executive is a part of the legislature. It is responsible to the legislature for its actions and also it derives its authority from legislature. India, since it is a parliamentary form of government, therefore it is based upon intimate contact and close co-ordination among the legislative and executive wings. However, the executive power vests in the President but, in reality he is only a formal head and that, the Real head is the Prime minister along with his Council of Ministers. The reading of Art. 74(1) makes it clear that the executive head has to act in accordance with the aid and advice given by the cabinet.

Generally the legislature is the repository of the legislative power but, under some specified circumstances President is also empowered to exercise legislative functions. Like while issuing an ordinance , framing rules and regulations relating to Public service matters , formulating law while proclamation of emergency is in force . These were some instances of the executive head becoming the repository of legislative functioning. President performs judicial functions also . On the other side, in certain matters Parliament exercises judicial functions too. It can decide the question of breach of its privilege , and in case of impeaching the President; both the houses take active participation and decide the charges

It’s quite evident from the constitutional provisions themselves that India, being a parliamentary democracy, does not follow an absolute separation and is, rather based upon fusion of powers, where a close co-ordination amongst the principal organs is unavoidable and the constitutional scheme itself mentions it. The doctrine has, thus, not been awarded a Constitutional status. Thus, every organ of the government is required to perform all the three types of functions. Also, each organ is, in some form or the other, dependant on the other organ which checks and balances it. The reason for the interdependence can be accorded to the parliamentary form of governance followed in our country. But, this doesn’t mean that this doctrine is not followed in India at all. Except where the constitution has vested power in a body, the principle that one organ should not perform functions which essentially belong to others is followed. This observation was made by the Supreme Court in the re Delhi Laws Act case, wherein, it was held by a majority of 5:2, that, the theory of separation of powers is not part and parcel of our Constitution. But, it was also held that except for exceptional circumstances like in A. 123, A. 357, it is evident that constitution intends that the powers of legislation shall be exercised exclusively by the Legislature. As Kania, C.J., observed-

Although in the constitution of India there is no express separation of powers, it is clear that a legislature is created by the constitution and detailed provisions are made for making that legislature pass laws. Does it not imply that unless it can be gathered from other provisions of the constitution, other bodies-executive or judicial-are not intended to discharge legislative functions. In essence they imported the modern doctrine of separation of powers. While dealing with the application of this doctrine, it is quintessential to mention the relevant cases which clarify the situation further.

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