Which one of the following factors constitutes the best safeguard of liberty in a liberal democracy?
[UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2021 Prelims]
(a) A committed judiciary
(b) Centralization of powers
(c) Elected government
(d) Separation of powers
A: Option d
- Separation of powers
- It is the division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government.
- It minimizes the possibility of arbitrary excesses by the government since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.
- The constitutional demarcation precludes the concentration of excessive power by any branch of the Government.
- In the liberal approach which is inherent in democracy, all forms of power are rooted in the will of the people. This approach enhances the rule of law as one of the basic foundations of democracy; it affirms the separation of powers as a vehicle for their restraint, and it promotes individuals’ rights and freedoms as a prerequisite for their dignity. Hence, Option d is correct.
- Separation of powers should be secured between the legislature and executive. Judiciary should be separated from these. Any concentration or combination of these powers can be dangerous for Liberty.
- The Executive should not exercise the legislative or judicial powers because this may threaten the freedom and liberty of individuals.
- The Legislative should never exercise the executive or judicial powers as this may lead to arbitrariness and hence, end the liberty.
- The Judiciary should not exercise the executive or legislative powers because then a judge would behave like a dictator.
Constitutional Provisions Ensuring Separation of Power
- Article 50:
- The state shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive.
- Article 121 and 211:
- Judicial conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court and the High Courts’ cannot be discussed in the Parliament and the State Legislature.
- Article 122 and 212:
- Validity of proceedings in Parliament and the Legislatures cannot be called into question in any Court.
- Article 361:
- The President or the Governor shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office