Examine the relative roles of the legislature, executive and judiciary in the functioning of parliamentary system of government. Is it true that the Executive is exercising more and more control over the recent years?

Examine the relative roles of the legislature, executive and judiciary in the functioning of parliamentary system of government. Is it true that the Executive is exercising more and more control over the recent years?
Introduction

Indian constitution prescribes both fusion of power and separation of powers among the three organs of the government, namely legislature, executive and judiciary in a parliamentary system of government. Each organ should be independent of the other such that the legislature is entitled to make the law, the executive to implement the law and the judiciary to interpret the law within the limits set down by the Constitution.

EXECUTIVE
  1. Under the Indian Constitution, the executive powers are vested with the President and Governors for respective states who are part of the respective legislatures. The President is, therefore, regarded as the Chief Executive of Indian Union who exercises his powers on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
  2. The president also performs legislative and judicial functions.

He/she is empowered to promulgate ordinances during recess of the Parliament and this power is co-extensive with that of the legislature. He/she also has powers to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute; the sentence of any person convicted of any offence which is of judicial nature.

LEGISLATURE

1. Legislative powers are vested in the Parliament which makes laws by passing Acts. However, Parliament also exercises judicial functions. It can decide the question of breach of its privilege and if proved, can punish the person concerned.

JUDICIARY
  1. The judicial branch majorly functions independently of other two wings and has been conferred with considerable institutional separation.
  2. However, a certain amount of executive control is vested in the higher judiciary with respect to control of subordinate judiciary.
  3. The constitutional courts also have legislative powers by virtue of which they can frame rules regulating their own procedure for the conduct and disposal of cases.

Hence, combination of power sought to be achieved by Indian Constitution is not in an absolute or literal sense and it presents an artistic blend and an adroit admixture of judicial, legislative and executive functions.

EXECUTIVE IS EXERCISING MORE AND MORE CONTROL

It has often been alleged that the executive control over the other two branches has been expanding to such an extent that it distorts the constitutional separation of powers. For instance:

  1. Frequent use of ordinance: This practice which was provided as an emergency measure in the constitution is frequently by the executive to bypass the legislature.
  2. Private members bill rarely passed: Private members bill hardly sails through the Parliament which highlights the overpowering effect of executive on law-making process.
  3. Rising power of cabinet: The cabinet has come to play the most important role in Indian parliamentary system. Laws passed by the cabinet sail through easily in the Parliament without effective debates.
  4. Use of pocket veto in judicial appointments: The executive usually keeps the recommendations of Collegium pending for an indefinite period if the recommended judge does not fit the criteria of the executive.

Notwithstanding some minor aberrations, Indian democracy seems to be functioning as per the constitutional spirit:

  1. NJAC Bill scrapped: The judiciary declared the National Judicial Accountability Bill as ultra vires as it sought to undermine the independence of the judiciary.
  2. Activism of parliamentary committees: The Public Accounts Committee keeps a check on government’s expenses and major policy decisions. Example, after demonetization was implemented the PAC summoned the RBI Governor to seek the details of the entire issue and its findings were made public.
  3. Judicial activism: In case of arbitrary executive action the judiciary steps in to correct the executive overreach. For example when the Arunachal Pradesh government of Nabam Tuki was dismissed by the Governor in 2016, the SC quashed the Governor’s order and restored Tuki’s government.

Thereafter it can be inferred that the constitutional separation of powers stands defended as a result of checks and balances created by the constitution. The three wings of the Indian state balance, defend and counter each other parallel in order to keep the parliamentary system afloat.

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