Posted by / Friday 16 December 2016 / No comments

The merits of the doctrine of Separation of Powers

The meaning of the doctrine
The concept of Separation of Powers was propounded by Baron de Montesquieu. It states that the three arms of government – the Legislature, Executive and the judiciary - must be separate and independent in terms of personnel, functions and powers. In other words, the personnel in the legislative arm of government must not be the same as those in the executive or the judicial arm of government. Also the members of the legislature must not have the same functions and powers as those in both the executive and the judiciary.

Reduces workload of governance
The functions that are involved in governance are enormous so for one arm of government to perform all such functions can be too herculean for it so the principle of Separation of Powers, helps to reduce the workload on the shoulders of the three arms of government.

Ensures the independence of the judiciary
In almost every constitution, the judiciary is clothed with the powers to have the final say in all constitutional disputes and to be able to declare null ant actions of the other arms of government. The concept of Separation of Powers helps to strengthen the independence the judiciary has to perform its functions.

Ensures order in governance
All the three arms of government are allocated their separate functions. A strict application of the principle would ensure that each performs its role and that only. This ensures that there is order in the way the state is managed.

Ensures compliance with the constitution
According to the doctrine, the constitution allocates the powers of each organ and only that function must it perform. No one arm of government must veer into the functions of the other. As the arms of government stick to their functions, they are complying with the constitution of the country.

Ensures the liberty of the citizens
The concept of Separation of powers ensures that no one arm of the state is able to usurp absolute powers to it. The danger of absolute power is that it can be used to trample upon the liberties of the citizens. So in the absence of such absolute power, the citizens are protected.

Prevents tyranny
The concept is good in the sense that it is able to check tyranny on the part of those in government. The concept ensures that too much power is not concentrated in one arm of government. This prevents the temptation of abusing the powers and becoming a demagogue.

1. a. Explain the concept of Separation of Powers. [3 marks]
    b. Highlight four advantages of the concept. [12 marks]

2. Highlight six advantages of the concept of Separation of Powers. [15 marks]

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