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n of
e Law Project
Roll No: 341,
6th semester.

With great pleasure and privilege, I present here with full satisfaction, my project
work titled
Separation of Powers
First, I express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Almighty God for his blessings to
complete my project work successfully.
I wish to acknowledge our profound gratitude to our Vice Chancellor Dr.
N.Jaykumar and our Registrar for his valuable support and guidance. I thank our
Librarian for the help he rendered for the successful completion of this project. I also
wish to express my indebtedness to all my teachers for their guidance for the
successful completion of my project. Lastly I would like to thank Sir Prashanth for
her guidance in completing this project

Words are inadequate to express my thankfulness to my parents and friends whose

moral support and co-operation enabled me to complete this project.
I once again express my gratitude to all those who have enabled me to complete this

Separation of Power.

The Separation of Powers is the division of the legislative, executive, and judicial
functions of government among separate and independent bodies. Such a separation
limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government, since the sanction of all
three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws. If all
the powers is concentrated in one and the same organ then there would arise the
danger of enactment of tyrannical laws. Separation of powers according to the
French Enlightenment political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu, is a model for
the governance of democratic states, having its origins in an ancient idea of mixed
government. The organs of the government, the executive, the legislature and the
judiciary, in a free democracy have to be kept separate and be exercised by separated
organs of the government.

Historical Background:

The origin of separation of powers can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle. In the 16th
and 17th century, French philosopher, John Bodin and British Politician John Locke
respectively had expressed there views about the doctrine of separation on powers. But
it was Montesquieu who formulated who formulated the doctrine systematically,
scientifically and clearly in his book, “Espirit Des Lois, (The spirit of laws) in 1748

In England after a long war between the parliament and the king, the parliament
triumphed in 1688.The King recognised the Legislative and the tax powers of the
parliament and the judicial powers of the courts. So from then on the King exercised
the executive powers, the parliament exercised the legislative powers and the judiciary
exercised the judicial powers. They did not stick to this structural classification and so
they changed to the parliamentary form of government.

Separation of powers was a leading idea in medieval Europe under the name of the
‘two swords’. Most thinkers agreed that power should be shared between the State and
the Church. But no convincing argument was produced for the supremacy of one over
the other. Those who argued that the State was superior to the Church faced the fact
that divine authority was supposed to be conferred on kings at their coronation, and
that religious authorities claimed the power to excommunicate kings (as happened to
King John of England). Those who argued that the Church was superior to the State
had to explain away Jesus's command to ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things
which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's’. Thus there was a de
facto separation of power in medieval Europe.

The idea revived in the seventeenth century in response to renewed claims of divine
right and absolute sovereignty Locke distinguished the executive, legislative, and
federative powers, although he did not intend them to be regarded as separate. He had
in mind the British arrangement where the executive was drawn from
the legislature and answerable to it. Montesquieu developed this into a full-blown
theory of the separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers
Both John Locke and Montesquieu derived there concepts of separation of powers
from the British constitutional history.

Division of Powers:
John Locke:

Locke attempted to distinguish between legislature, executive and judiciary was what
he called;

 Discontinuous Legislative power

 Continuous executive power
 Federative power

Discontinuous Legislative power:

This power included the general rule making power called into action from time to
time and not in a continuous fashion.

Continuous Executive power:
This included all the powers which we now call the executive and judicial.

Federative powers:
By federative powers he meant the power of conducting the foreign affairs.

The concept received its first modern formulation in the work of Baron de
Montesquieu, who declared it the best way to safeguard liberty.

In the year 1748 Montesquieu stated that,

“When the legislative and the executive powers are united in the same person or body
of magistrates, there can be no liberty because apprehension may arise that the same
monarch or senate will enact tyrannical laws and execute in a tyrannical manner. No
liberty if judicial power is not separate from the legislative and executive, when it
joins with legislative the life and liberty of the subjects would be in exposed to
arbitrary control for the judge would then be the legislative. When it joins with the
executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.”

He divided power into three

 The general Legislative Power.
 An Executive Power as per the Federative powers as stated by John Locke.
 The civil Law Executive Power, including executive and judicial power.


 The doctrine propounded by Montesquieu had tremendous impact on the

development of administrative law and functions of the government.
 It was appreciated by both the English and American Jurists

 Blackstone in the year 1765 published a book “Commentaries on the Laws of
England” observed that if the legislative, the executive and the judicial
functions where given to one man then there was an end of personal liberty.


 Theoretically speaking- there was no separation of powers under the British

constitution. At no point of time was this doctrine applied in England. The
philosophers went on to say that, Montesquieu looked across a foggy England
from his sunny vineyard in Paris.
 The doctrine was based on the assumption that the three functions of the
government are distinguishable from each other but in fact it is not. It is not
easy to draw a line of separation between one power and another.
President Woodrow Wilson stated that, “The government is not machinery but
a living thing .No living thing can have its organs offset against each other. But
rather life depends upon the co-operation of these organs.
 Adoption of this theory cannot be done in its entirety.
 It is not applicable in a modern welfare state because a modern welfare
state faces a number of problems dealing with complex issues of socio-
economic nature, which cannot be dealt without mutual co-operation of the
 Distinction is possible only if the essential powers are not encroached
 The mechanical division of the powers will not ensure to any
individual the liberty and freedom. Even though such a separation was absent
in England, the individual liberty was still protected.

Wades and Philips:

Separation of power according to them was that:

 Same person should not form part of more than one of the three organs.
 One organ should not control or interfere with the exercise of function of
another organ.

 One organ of the government should not exercise the function of another.

Though the doctrine is not fully accepted, the one common factor that the entire jurist
felt was that the judiciary has to be independent from the other organs; there will be no
liberty if the judiciary is not separate from the executive and the legislature.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis said: “The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted
by the convention of 1787, not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of
arbitrary power. The purpose was, not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable
friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three
department, to save the people from autocracy”

The value of the doctrine wholly depends upon the check and balances of the organs
of the government which is very much necessary to prevent the abuse of enormous
The Doctrine of Checks and Balances:

The Doctrine of Checks and Balances refers to the idea that no one branch of
government can do something without any other branch of government being able to
review that action and, possibly, stop it. Thus, the legislature can pass a law, but the
President can veto it - that veto power is a check against the power to pass laws.
However, the legislature can pass a bill over a presidential veto, so long as there are
enough votes. Thus, that power is another check against the President's veto power.
These checks create a balance of power, where no one branch of government has too
much authority.
Essence of doctrine is that powers of government are distributed amongst the three
branches so that, in any given exercise of power, one branch has the capacity to check
and balance the powers of another branch.
The Doctrine of check and balances has been a key factor in the separation of powers.
It is the check and balance that restrict the arbitrariness of the organs.
When the executive is not enjoying the confidence of the parliament, as an action of
check the non confidence motion is brought forward and following that a balance is
maintained. Similarly when the legislative act beyond the scope of the powers given to

them the judiciary checks the legislations brought forth and if found ultravires will
deem the legislation as void.
Similarly the executive checks the parliament, when a bill has to be passed the asset of
the president is required and in the president has the powers to veto the bill if he feels
it is unjust.

Separation of power in various Constitutions:

United States of America:

President Woodrow Wilson stated that, “The government is not machinery but a
living thing .No living thing can have its organs offset against each other. But rather
life depends upon the co-operation of these organs.
The drafters of the constitution felt the need for separation of powers Separation of
powers is implicit in the American constitution, but it is not rigorously applied, a bill
passed by the congress can always be vetoed by the president to this extend the
president may be said to be exercising the legislative functions.

There have a number of loops created with in the theory by the constitution itself;
 Delegated legislation (i.e.) the court conceded that the legislative powers could
be confined to the executive. This does not mean that unlimited powers can be
confined upon the executive.
 Development of independent statutory commission to regulate the new areas of
activity. They are endowed with the triple function of passing legislations,
executing them and finally there adjudication.

United Kingdom:

Montesquieu had based his doctrine of separation of powers based on the British
scenario, but at no point of time was this doctrine adopted. Though the three powers
are distributed between the three organs it cannot be said that there is no sharing out of
power of the government.
The Lord Chancellor is the head of the judiciary, chairman of the House of Lords and
also a member of the cabinet.

As to the exercise by one organ of the functions of the other organ, no separation
exists in England. The House of Lords combines both judicial and Legislative
functions. The whole house of lords constitutes, in theory, the highest court of the
country. By constitutional conventions the judicial functions are appointed by
specially appointed law lords. Legislative and adjudicatory powers are being
increasingly delegated to the executive, which distracts from an effective separation of


Separation of powers has been adopted in the strict sense in France. The system of
administrative law that prevails in France is called as Droit Administratif; this system
itself is a product of separation of powers. The doctrine has meant in France that there
should be separation between the courts and administration. The system of Droit
Administratif has resulted in non interference by the courts in the working of
administrative authorities.
The system of administrative tribunals is distinct from the ordinary courts which have
no jurisdiction on the administration; a person seeking any redress against the
administration has to go to an administrative court and not to an ordinary court. All
tribunals are subject to the supervision of “Consiel d’Etat”, which acts as the court of
appeals from all administrative tribunals.

Most European countries like Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain etc. follow the
French practice of double jurisdiction.


A casual glance at the provisions of the Constitution of India, there is a general

inclination to say that the Doctrine of Separation of Power is accepted in India (i.e.)

The Executive:

The Executive power of the union is vested in the President, who holds office for a
fixed period. Article 53, 74, 75, 77, 78, 299, 320, 310 and 311 of the Constitution deal

with the executive powers of President Further going down to the lower levels of
administration the Governor performs the executive functions within the State as per
Articles162, 154.

Article 53 vests all executive powers in President and empowers him to exercise these
powers directly by himself or through officer’s subordinate to him. As per this article
Supreme Command of the Defence Force of the union shall be vested in the President
and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law.

Article 74 says: (i) there shall be Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the
head to aid and advise the President who shall act in the exercise of his functions, act
in accordance with such advice. Provided that the President may require the Council
of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise and the President
shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration. (ii) The
question whether any, and if so what advice was tendered by ministers to the President
shall not be inquired into in any court.

Under Article 75, The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other
ministers shall be appointed by President on the advice of the Prime-Minister. By 91st
amendment, the total number of Ministers including the Prime Minister in the Council
of Ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members of the House
of the People. It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister. (i) To communicate to the
President all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the
affaires of the union and proposals for legislation. (ii) To furnish such information
relating to the administration of the affairs of the union and proposals for legislation as
President may call for. (iii) If the President so requires to submit for consideration of
the Council of Ministers any matter on which as decision has been taken by a minister
but which has not been considered by the Council.

Article 77 talks about conduct of business of the Government of India. It says (I) All
executive actions of the Government of India shall be expressed to be taken in the
name of the President (II) Orders and other instruments made and executed in the
name of the President shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in
rules to be made by the President (III) The President shall make rules for the more

convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India and for the
allocation among ministers of said business.

Under Article 310, except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person
who is a member of a defence service, or of a Civil Service of the union, or an All-
India Service, or hold any post connected with defence or any civil post under the
union holds during the pleasure of the President.

Article 311 Says - No person who is a member of a Civil Service of the union or an
All - India Service, or a Civil Service of the state or holds a civil post under the union
or a state shall be dismissed, or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which
he was appointed.

Under Article 320, President appoints Union Public Service Commission and
determines its functions.

Under Article 299 All contracts made in the exercise of the executive power of the
union shall be expressed to be made by the President and all assurances of property
made in the exercise of that power shall be executed on behalf of the President.
Besides above mentioned powers the President appoints Chief Justice and judges of
the Supreme Court and the High Courts, Attorney - General, State Governor and other
high dignitaries of the State.

Under Article 154, the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor
and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinates to him in
accordance with this Constitution.
Under Article 162, states that the executive power of a State shall extend to the matters
with respect to which the Legislature of the State has power to make laws.

The legislature:

The parliament is competent to make laws subject to the provisions of the constitution;
there is no limitation on the exercise of the legislative power. The parliament can
amend laws prospectively or retrospectively but it cannot declare a judgment delivered

by the court to be void. The main function of both the Houses is to make laws. Every
Bill has to be passed by both the Houses and assented by the President before it
becomes law. The subjects over which Parliament can legislate are the subjects
mentioned under the Union List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
Union subjects are those important subjects which for reasons of convenience,
efficiency and security are administered on all. The principal Union subjects are
defense, foreign affairs, railways, insurance, communications, currency and coinage,
banking, income tax, customs, excise duties, atomic energy, census, etc.

Apart from the wide range of subjects allotted to it in the Seventh Schedule of
the Constitution, even in normal times Parliament can, under certain circumstances,
assume legislative power over a subject falling within the sphere exclusively reserved
for the States.

Further, in times of grave emergency when the security of India or any part
thereof is threatened by war or external aggression or armed rebellion, and a
Proclamation of Emergency is made by the President, Parliament acquires the power
to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India with respect to any of
the matters enumerated in the State List. Similarly, in the event of the failure of the
constitutional machinery in a State, the powers of the Legislature of that State become
exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament. This apart, the Constitution also
vests in the Parliament the constituent power or the power to initiate amendment of the

Besides passing laws, Parliament can by means of resolutions, motions for

adjournment, discussions, questions addressed by members to Ministers, system of
committees, etc., exercise control over the administration of the country and safeguard
people's liberties.

The Judiciary:

The Judiciary is also independent in its own way; there is interference by the executive
or the legislature. The judiciary has the power of judicial review and can declare any
laws passed as ultravires.

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 Supreme Court are appointed by the
President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and judges of the Supreme
Court. The Supreme Court has power to make Rules for efficient conduction of
It is noteworthy that Article 50 of the constitution puts an obligation over state to take
steps to separate the judiciary from the executive.

Taking these facts into account some of the jurists are of the opinion that the doctrine
of separation of powers was accepted in the constitution of India in its entirety.
So in Kartar Singh v state of Punjab1, it was held that,“The legal sovereign powers has
been distributed between the legislative to make laws, executive to implement the laws
and the judiciary to interpret the laws within the limit set by the constitution.”
But one careful reading it can be clearly seen that the doctrine of separation of power
has not been accepted in India in the strict sense.
There are no provisions in the constitution regarding the division of functions of
government and their exercise. Only the executive has specific provisions stating
about the powers of the state and union 154(1) and 53(1) respectively. Both judiciary
and the legislature do not have specific provisions in the constitution.

Executive Exercise of:

Some of the action of the executive clearly shows that the executive interferes with the
actions of the other organs.

 Legislative Powers:
The President has a wide Legislative power, Articles 123 and 356, and is
competent to make laws for the state after the legislature has been dissolved.
Such an exercise of legislative function is immune from judicial review.
 Judicial Powers;
(1994)3 SCC 569

The president performs judicial functions also, he decides disputes regarding
the age of judges of the Supreme court and High courts, according to articles
124(2-A) and 217(3) respectively.
Parliamentary Exercise of:
The parliament also infers with some of the functions of the other organs of the

 Executive Powers:
The parliament, at times of fixed situations, it delegates the power to make
laws to the executive, this is done in order to reduce the overburden upon the
legislature. Such a method of delegating the power of the legislature to the
executive is known as delegated legislation.
 Judicial Powers:
Parliament exercises judicial functions also; it can decide the question as to the
breach of its privileges and the parliament also has the powers to punish the
offender to such privileges according to Article 105.
The proceeding as to the impeachment of the President is initiated in the
parliament, where one house acts as the investigator and the other acts as the
prosecutor and decides the matter, whether proved or not, this is purely a
judicial function.(Article 61).

Judicial Exercise of:

The judiciary exercises both executive and legislative functions.

 Executive Powers:
According to the Article 227, The High court has the powers over all the
subordinate courts and tribunals. They also have the power to transfer cases
from a lower tribunal to a higher tribunal.

 Legislative Powers:
The Supreme Court and the High court have the powers to frame rules
regarding their own procedure for the conduct and disposal of cases according
to the Articles 145 and 225.

They also have the powers to invalidate the laws passed by the parliament.

So from all this we can draw a conclusion that the Doctrine of Separation of powers
has not been adopted in the strict sense.
In the case of Ram Jawaya v State of Punjab2, it has been held that, “The Indian
Constitution has not indeed recognised the Doctrine of Separation of Powers in its
absolute rigidity.”
In the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v Raj Narain3, Justice Beg observed that,
“Separation of power is a part of the basic structure of the constitution, none of the
three organs of the republic can take over the functions assigned to the others. This
scheme of the constitution cannot be changed even by resorting to Article 3684 of the


Doctrine of Separation of power in today’s context of liberalisation, privatisation, and

globalisation cannot be interpreted to mean either ‘Separation of Powers’ or ‘Check
and Balance’ but ‘Community powers’ exercised by the spirit of co-operation by
various organs of the state in the best interest of the people.

(1955)2 SCR225
AIR 1975 SC 2299
Power of the parliament to amend the constitution and the procedure thereof.