Checks And Balances: Doctrines, Advantages And Disadvantages

Tables Of Content

  • The Doctrine Of Checks And Balances
  • Disadvantages Of The Principle Of Checks And Balances
  • Advantages Of The Principle Of Checks And Balances

The Doctrine Of Checks And Balances

The doctrine or principle of checks and balances advocates the use of one organ of government to check the activities of other organs. This is where the power of one organ are used to check the power of other organs. This constitutional acts of checks abuse of office, constitutional violation and naked use of powers by different organs of government.

The doctrine of checks and balances does not advocate fusion of the three organs of government in the performance of their constitutional functions. All it is saying is that in as much as these organs will be mutually independent, they should act as watchdog of each other to avoid misuse of power and to reconcile these organs. The doctrine of checks and balances applies in both parliamentary and presidential system of government. For instance, the executive canhand veto the legislature’s bills, it can also dissolve parliament, as well as make judicial appointment and promotions. On the other hand, the legislature promotions. On the other hand, the legislature can check the executives power to appoint ministers, it can set up committees to investigate activities of executive and has the power to impeach the president for gross misconduct.

In like manners, the judiciary has the power to review both the executive and judicial actions. It has the power to declare the activities of either the executive or the legislature null and void and without effect.

How The Principle Of Checks And Balances Violate The Theory Of Separation Of Powers In A Presidential System Of Government And Disadvantages Of The Principle Of Checks And Balances

Though the principle of check and balances which is a feature of the presidential system of government was not meant to violate the theory of separation of power, its application in modern states tends to violate the theory of separation of power in the following ways and they also serve as the disadvantages of the principle of checks and balances:

1. The application of the principle of check and balances render the theory of separation of power meaningless, for instance, the constitutional power of impeachment of the president granted the legislature, makes the executive arm of the government dependent and subordinate to the legislature.

2. The power to veto Acts of Parliament granted to the president makes the president who is the head of the executive to be part of the law making body – the legislature and this acts as a violation of the theory of separation of power because It amounts to fusing the executive and the legislature.

3. The undemocratic act of allowing the unelected members of the judiciary to declare executive actions and laws made by the legislature as unconstitutional makes mockery of the theory of separation of power and independence of these organs.

4. The president who is the commander in chief of the Armed force and who can declare war n this capacity against another country can be incapacitated by the legislature refusal of 2/3 majority required by the president.

5. The application of judicial procedure by the legislature in the process of impeachment tantamount to usurpation of judicial function by the legislature thereby making the theory of separation of power a hoax.

6. By the power of approving the executive nominees and budgets given to the legislature, legislators therefore participate in the executive functions thereby rendering the theory of separation of power unrealisable.

7. The principle of checks and balances also violate the theory of separation of powers by the fact that the president names all federal judges and approved by the legislature.

8. The power of approval of all treaties concluded by the executive granted to the legislature makes the legislators to participate in the execution functions of policy making and executive which negates the theory of separation of powers.

9. Through the exercise of prerogative of mercy by the president, the president interferes with the functions of the judiciary which is detrimental to the theory of separation of powers

Argument For Or Merits Or Advantages Of The Principle Of Checks And Balances

The mechanism of the modern governments have shown the impracticability of complete separate of power thereby, making the application of the principle of check and balances imperative. The principle of checks and balances in spite of its violation of the theory of separation of powers and disadvantages as discussed above, has the following advantages:

1. The application of the principle of check and balance makes government officials cautious and meticulous in carrying out their official functions.

2. It bring about orderliness and efficiency among the organs of government.

3. The principle of checks and balances leads to strict compliance with the provisions of the constitution.

4. The application of the principle of check and balance prevents the excessive use of power by the organs of government.

5. It prevents the emergence of a dictator.

6. Fundamental human right will be guaranteed, also liberties and freedom of the citizens can be easily maintained if the principle of checks and balances is applied.

7. The legislature approval of president’s budget which is part of the principle of check and balances leads to prudent use of resources.

8. Finally, the application of the principle of checks and balances ensures that the use of public authority and organs of government are brought under popular control.

Suggested Posts: