Separation of powers is basically a model for governance of a state whereby the state is split into various branches, with separate powers and areas of responsibility for each branch in order that the powers of one are not in conflict with that of the others. This typical division is into legislature, executive, and judiciary. It is contrasted with the concept of fusion of powers in a parliamentary system wherein the executive and legislature (and sometimes some components of judiciary) are unified. It is wide accepted that for a form of government to be stable, the holders of power ought to be balanced off against one another.
Separation of powers is a doctrine of constitutional law wherein the 3 branches of democracy namely the executive, legislative, and judiciary are kept separate. The principle of separation of powers deals with the mutual relations among most of the main organs of the government, but particularly the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. To understand this doctrine with more clarity, it is important to understand the three main organs of any democracy:
• Legislature, whose main and primary function is to makes the laws;
• Executive, whose main function is to execute/implement the laws that are made/passed by the Legislature;
• Judiciary, whose main function is to interpret the laws made/passed by the Legislature.
The main idea behind this doctrine is to distribute the powers to all organs of the government equally so as to reduce the chances of any
kind of arbitrariness due to concentration of power into one particular organ. This theory prevents the government from becoming
authoritarian so that the liberty of every individual/citizen is protected from being violated due to excessive powers concentrated in the
Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham (British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778)
The Doctrine of Separation of Power forms the basic structure of Indian Constitution, even though it is not specifically mentioned in there. The perception of a judiciary as a separate branch of government and therefore the call for its independence are an inherent part of the present view of the doctrine of separation of powers.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DOCTRINE OF SEPARATION OF POWER
The doctrine of the separation of powers finds its roots within the ancient world, where by the idea of governmental functions, and theories of a kind of mixed and balanced government, were evolved. These were essential elements within the development of the doctrine of the separation of powers. “Their transmission through medieval writings, to produce the premise of the ideas of constitutionalism in England, enabled the doctrine of the separation of powers to emerge as an alternate, however closely connected, formulation of the right articulation of the parts of government.”
The doctrine of separation is based on the principle of “Trias Politica”. This doctrine was first developed in Greece by Aristotle. In his book “Politics”, Aristotle has described three agencies of the government – the General Assembly, the Public officials and the Judiciary. He stated that every constitution has three elements which every lawgiver should look as to what is advantageous to it; they are – the deliberative, which discusses everything that is of common importance; second the official and third the judicial element.
Later, this theory of three agencies of the government re-emerged in John Locke’s book “Two Treaties of Government.” He then defined them as Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. According to him, legislative branch is supreme than the other two. The other two namely the executive and federative functions were to be exercised by the monarch. His model corresponded with the dual form of government existing in England at that time – The Parliament and the Monarchy
One can find the roots of separation of powers in the Vedas. The principle of separation of powers in found in the “Narad Smriti”. The king was the supreme authority and he made laws. The Deewan was the head of the executive, the Senapati maintained law and order and the Kaji was the Judicial head. It had been held that the most important establishments ought to be divided and dependent upon one another so that powers of one would not be able to exceed that of the other two.