Government Types: Parliamentary- Presidential, Unitary- Federal and Theory of Separation of Powers

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Government Types: Parliamentary Vs Presidential

Features

Parliamentary GovtPresidential Govt
1. Dual executive (Prime Minister is the defacto and President is the dejure Executives)1. Single executive
2. Majority party rule2. President and legislators elected separately for a fixed term.
3. Collective responsibility3. Non-responsibility
4. Double membership
(both in Legislature and Executive)
4. Single membership
5. Leadership of Prime Minister5. Domination of President
6. Dissolution of Lower House for new Govt6. No dissolution of Lower House

Merits and Demerits

Parliamentary GovtPresidential Govt
1. Harmony between legislature and executive1. Conflict between legislature and executive
2. Responsible government
(checks and balances)
2. Non-responsible government (President is not responsible to Legislature)
3. Prevents despotism3. May lead to autocracy
4. Wide representation4. Narrow representation
5. Unstable government5. Stable government
6. No continuity of policies6. Definiteness in policies
7. Against separation of powers7. Based on separation of powers
8. Government by amateurs8. Government by experts

Why Parliamentary System was adopted?

  • Familiarity with the system (experience under British rule)
  • Preference to more responsibility (majority and checks and balances)
  • To avoid possible Executive-Legislature Conflict
  • More diverse representation (elected by the citizens)
  • The Constitution of India vests the executive power of the Union formally in the President, who can be removed by impeachment only ground of violation of the Constitution.
  • The council of ministers can be removed from any time and this requires a fixed term for the head of the state.

In 1975, Sardar Swarna Singh Committee constituted for recommending amendment in the Constitution, opined that the Parliamentary System is doing well and hence, no need to replace it by Precedential System.

Government Type: Unitary and Federal

Unitary GovtFederal Govt
1. Single government
(national government may create
regional governments)
1. Dual Government
(national government and
regional government)
2. Constitution may be written (France) or unwritten (Britain)2. Written Constitution
3. No division of powers
(All powers with the national
government)
3. Division of powers
(between the national and regional
government)
4. Constitution may be supreme (Japan) or may not be supreme
(Britain)
4. Supremacy of the Constitution
5. Constitution may be rigid (France) or flexible (Britain)5. Rigid Constitution
6. Judiciary may be independent or may not be independent6. Independent judiciary
7. Legislature may be bicameral (Britain) or unicameral (China)7. Bicameral legislature

Unitary Features in the Constitution:

  • Strong center (important subjects in the Union List, more power in Concurrent List and has Residual Power) and even Parliament may form laws on subjects from State List.
  • States may be destroyed (Parliament can alter, change area and territorial integrity of States)
  • Single Constitution and Citizenship (with Amendment power with the Center)
  • Emergency powers for the Center
  • All India Services – IAS, IPS and IFoS are under immediate control with the States and the ultimate control with the Centre. Any disciplinary action can be taken only by the Center.
  • Appointment of Governor who has power to reserve State Bills and even recommends for application of President Rule in State under Article 356.

Federal Features in the Constitution:

  • Dual Govt system (State and Center)
  • Written Constitution
  • Division of power (Union and State List)
  • Rigid Constitution (difficult procedure of amendments)
  • Bicameral legislature (Rajya Sabha being the representative of States)
  • Independent judiciary

Theory of Separation of Power

This principle states that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary powers should be separated from each other. In India, a strict separation of power is not followed (as in the US) but a system of checks and balances has been embedded in the Constitution.

Constitutional Provisions for Separation of Power:

  • Separation of power is included in the Basic Structure of the Constitution as defined by the judiciary many times.
  • Article 13 empowers the Court to check the constitutionality of a law or action. (Judicial Review)
  • Article 50 puts obligation of the States to separate the judiciary form the executive.
  • Article 121 and 211provide for a complex impeachment process for a judge of High Court and Supreme Court which empower the judges free from any fear of removal.
  • Article 122 and 212 provide for no enquiry into the legislature’s proceedings which empowers the Legislature to deliberate on any issue.
  • Article 361 provides certain immunity from proceedings for the President and Governor.

Checks and Balances:

Though the principle of Separation of Power is included in the Basic Structure of Constitution and all the three organs of the Govt- Legislature, Judiciary and Executive have separate powers and functions, the Constitution also provides for a check and balance system to prevent any arbitrary use of power by any organ.

  • Executive/Legislature over judiciary:
    • Executive appoints judiciary
    • Legislature takes impeachment
    • Legislature may the jurisdiction and size of judiciary
  • Judiciary on Executive/Legislature:
    • Judicial Review on the Constitutional validity of a law or Executive action
    • Article 32/226 judiciary can hear pleas for violation of fundamental rights

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