Posted by / Wednesday 4 May 2016 / No comments

The functions of the Judiciary

Justice, Statue, Lady Justice
The judiciary can be defined as the third arm of government after the executive and the legislature.

To interpret the law
One of the functions of the judiciary is to interpret the constitution of the country or any other law. This function is especially important when a controversy arises over provisions any aspect of the constitution.

Settle dispute
Another function of the judiciary is to settle disputes between individual, between an individual and the state or a state institution. It is believed that at one point or the other conflicts may arise between two people, institutions of government or between citizens and government agencies. The law mandates the judiciary to settle such disputes and restore normalcy.

Protection of individual rights
It is also the function of the judiciary to protect the rights of the individual. The law allows that anybody whose rights have been violated or threatened to be violated can go to the courts to seek redress or protection. The courts have been empowered to prevent a public official or an institution from taking an action which threatens the rights of any citizen.

Conflict resolution
The judiciary also performs a conflict resolution role. It is their function to resolve or settle any conflict or dispute that may arise between individuals, between one government department and the other, between individuals and the state, etc.

A check on other organs of government
Another function of the judiciary is to check the other organs of Government. Under the power of Judicial Review, the judiciary can declare an act of the legislature or executive null and void. What this means is that through the exercise of judicial review the judiciary acts as a check on the other organs of government.

Punishes offenders
If a person violates the laws of the land, he/she is hauled before the law courts for trial. If after the trial he is found guilty, he/she is sentenced to a fine or a term of imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. If he is found innocent, he/she is released. One of the functions of the judiciary is therefore to punish offenders.

Gavel, Auction, Law, Hammer, Symbol

Advisory functions
Since one of the functions of the judiciary is to interpret the constitution, the judiciary is often requested by the Executive to offer it advice on the legality or otherwise of certain decisions of government.

Ceremonial functions
The judiciary also performs ceremonial functions. Some of these ceremonial functions include the swearing in of Heads of State, the celebration of marriages and their dissolution. The judiciary also performs coroner’s inquest to ascertain the true cause of the death of an individual.

1. a. What is judiciary?
    b. What five functions does a judiciary perform?
2. Highlight six functions of the judiciary.
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