French Political Thinker Baron de Montesquieu propounded the term “Trias Politica” or separation of powers in around Montesquieu’s “De L‘ Espirit des Lois” (Spirit of the Laws) has inspired separation of powers as a device for accountability and an essential tool for good governance in the modern democratic societies. “In Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, the separation of powers is meant to protect against tyranny and preserve liberty. Montesquieu by his publication “De L‘ Espirit des Lois” (Spirit of the Laws) has galvanised the Declaration of the Rights of Man and thus, the Constitution of the United States of America.
Also Read: Doctrine of Separation of Powers
According to Montesquieu, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. By separating the functions of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of government, one may operate as a balance against another and, thus, power should be a check on power. He laid greater emphasis on the political and natural liberty of a citizen. He has explained that the union of executive and legislative power would lead to despotism of the executive.
As per the Montesquieu Theory, there are three kinds of powers:
- Legislative Powers,
- Executive Powers, and
- Judicial Powers.
Montesquieu explained that the human liberty can be safeguarded only if the concentration of powers in a person or a group of persons could be avoided. Through this theory, he was of the view that no matter how honest that one man or body is, if the powers are concentrated in one hand, there will be arbitrariness. This principle works on three rules:
• The same person should not form a part of more than one of the three organs of the government. This means, for instance if a person is a member of legislature, he should not be a member of judiciary at the same time.
Example: If the legislature brings an act that violates the fundamental rights of the citizens, they can approach the courts and claim remedy. But if both the powers are vested in one person/body, fair discharge of justice is not possible.
• One organ of the government should not interfere with any other organ of the government. This means judiciary should not interfere with the working of legislature or executive, legislature should not interfere with the working of judiciary and executive and executive should not interfere with the working of legislature and judiciary.
• One organ of the government should not exercise the functions of other organs. For instance, the function of the legislature is to make laws and this cannot be done by other organs.
This doctrine is very rigid in its true sense. It is accepted by very few countries in the world. According to this doctrine, in a democracy
there should be a government of law and not a government of wills and whims of the officials.
This doctrine also provides for the independence of judiciary. This is one of the very important features of the Indian Constitution,
though there is no specific emphasis about the doctrine in the Constitution.
“Thus, there would be an end of everything, where there is same man or same body, whether of the Nobles or of the people, to exercise
those three powers, that of exacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions and of the causes of individuals.