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The doctrine of Separation of powers

Topic covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

The doctrine of Separation of powers:


Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently told the Lok Sabha that just as independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, the principle of separation of powers is also a part of that basic structure. He asserted that governance and lawmaking should be left to the elected members of the legislature.

  • He also urged the judiciary to exercise its discretion in accepting public interest litigations.

What’s the issue?

There has been a “rush to file PILs on almost every issue” nowadays.

What is the doctrine of Separation of Power?

It refers to the model of governance where the executive, legislative and judicial powers are not concentrated in one body but instead divided into different branches.

  • It is not explicitly mentioned in the constitution.

Articles in the Constitution facilitating Separation of Powers are as follows:

  1. Article 50: State shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive. This is for the purpose of ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
  2. Article 122 and 212: Validity of proceedings in Parliament and the Legislatures cannot be called into question in any Court. Also, Legislators enjoy certain privileges with regard to speech and anything said in the Parliament cannot be used against them.
  3. Judicial conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court cannot be discussed in the Parliament and the State Legislature, according to Article 121 and 211 of the Constitution.
  4. Articles 53 and 154 respectively, provide that the executive power of the Union and the State shall be vested with the President and the Governor and they enjoy immunity from civil and criminal liability.
  5. 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.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is a PIL?
  2. Who can file?
  3. Powers of Supreme Court vs High Court wrt to PILs.
  4. Articles in the Constitution facilitating Separation of Powers are as follows.

Mains Link:

What is the doctrine of Separation of Power? Discuss how it is followed under the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.