Daily Current Affairrs Update: 20 JAN 2023

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Doctrine of Separation of Powers

  • Recently, Vice-President of India has rekindled the debate over the doctrine of separation of powers by citing the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case, which ruled that Parliament has the authority to amend the Constitution but not its basic structure.

What is the Doctrine of Separation of Powers?

  • Separation of powers is the division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government.
  • Article 50 says that states shall take steps to separate the Judiciary from the Executive.
  • The constitutional demarcation precludes the concentration of excessive power by any branch of the government.
  • The Indian Constitution lays down the structure and defines and determines the role and functions of every organ of the State and establishes norms for their inter-relationships and checks and balances.

What are the Instruments of Checks & Balances?

    • Legislature Control
    • Executive Control
    • Judicial Control

What are the Issues with the Separation of Powers?

    • Weakened Opposition in India
    • Judiciary Being Averse to Checks & Balances
    • Judicial Activism
    • Executive Excesses

What is the Basic Structure of the Constitution?

  • There is no mention of the term “Basic Structure” anywhere in the Constitution of India.
  • The idea that the Parliament cannot introduce laws that would amend the basic structure of the constitution evolved gradually over time and many cases.
  • The idea is to preserve the nature of Indian democracy and protect the rights and liberties of people.
  • This Basic Structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution helps to protect and preserve the spirit of the constitution document.
  • It was the Kesavananda Bharati case that brought this doctrine into the limelight.
  • It held that the “basic structure of the Indian Constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment”.

The judgement listed some basic structures of the constitution as:

    • Supremacy of the Constitution
    • Unity and sovereignty of India
    • Democratic and republican form of government
    • Federal character of the Constitution
    • Secular character of the Constitution
    • Separation of power
    • Individual freedom

Evolution of the Basic Structure Concept

    • Shankari Prasad Case (1951)
    • Sajjan Singh case (1965)
    • Golaknath case (1967)
    • Kesavananda Bharati case (1973)
    • Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain case (1975)
    • Minerva Mills case (1980)
    • Waman Rao Case (1981)
    • Indra Sawhney and Union of India (1992)
    • S.R. Bommai case (1994)

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