The concept of infinity stones was popularized by the Marvel comics and books. These stones work together in maintaining the balance of the universe. A combination of these stones is the Constitution of India, acting as the guiding force of Indian society. This article attempts to discuss the infinity stones of the Indian Constitution, the stones that enable us to maintain a condition of equilibrium and allow the society to function.
The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
The Role of Infinity Stones – Balance and Destruction
The Marvel Cinematic Universe features six infinity stones. These stones work in sync to maintain societal balance. They are placed in different time zones and thus, avoiding the concentration of all the power in one time frame. However, if all the stones are concentrated in hands of one person, they become powerful enough to destroy the whole universe.
A similar concept can be traced to the doctrine of separation of power and checks and balances, provided in the Indian Constitution. Thus, the idea of division of functions and powers between the three organs of government: executive, legislative, and judiciary, is nothing less than the infinity stones of our very own Constitution.
Theory of Separation of Powers
The theory of separation of power was articulated by Montesquieuin his book “The Spirit of Laws” (Esprit des Lois), published in the year 1785. He wrote,
The combining of powers of the legislative and executive in the same organ paves way for jeopardy of the liberty of people as a result of the tyrannical exercise of these powers.
Combining the powers of judicial and legislative in the same organ leads to a meaningless interpretation of the law as now the lawmaker also acts as the interpreter of the law, and will be less acceptant of the loopholes and errors in law.
If powers of executive and judiciary are combined in one organ, the administration of justice will become meaningless as the police (executive) will also become the judge (Judiciary).
Combining of powers of all the three organs in one body or person leads to the end of all liberties as the concentration of powers become big and result in despotism.
Thus, for Montesquieu, separation of power and functions of the three organs of the government is essential for safeguarding the liberties of individuals.
The doctrine of separation of power given by Montesquieu led to the evolution of the principle of checks and balances, followed in India. According to this principle, all three organs of the government have separate powers and functions. One organ does not interfere with the core functions of the other and rather acts as a balancing mechanism by keeping a check on the actions of the other organs. This reflects a value of mutual respect for the other organs, meanwhile providing safeguards against abuse of power by anyone organ of the government.
Three Organs of Government
There are three organs of government in India namely, the executive, legislature, and the judiciary:
Executive The executive comprises the President and the council of ministers at the Central level and the Governor and the council of ministers of the state at the state level. The main function of this branch of government is to execute administrative functions of the government and maintain law and order
Legislature The legislative organ of the government comprises of the two houses of Parliament: The Lok Sabha (House of People) and Rajya Sabha (The Council of States). This organ is concerned with the making, passing, and amendment of laws.
Judiciary This organ consists of Supreme Court, High Court, and other courts. The judiciary is responsible for the interpretation of laws and ensuring that they are in compliance with the ideals of the Constitution. If any law is found to be a conflict with the basic structure of the constitution, the judiciary has the power to repeal such laws.
Separation of Powers under the Indian Constitution
Separation of power in its strict sense focuses on the rigid separation of the powers of the different organs of the government. On the other hand, a flexible approach to separation of power focuses on the idea of both separation and overlapping in a healthy manner. Although the constitution of India does not provide for strict separation of powers, flexibility in the separation of the same can however be traced through various articles of the Constitution.
Article 50(i) The State or the Government concerned is expected to take appropriate steps for ensuring that the functioning of the judicial branch is separated from that of the executive branch.
Article 121(ii)and 211(iii) This article states that the conduct of the judge/judiciary in the discharge of their duties in court cannot be discussed in the legislature of the state or the union.
Article 122(iv) and 212(v) This article aims at keeping the judiciary and the legislature separate and does so by rendering the judiciary powerless to review and question the validity of the proceedings of the legislature or the Parliament.
Article 361(vi) The article provides for separation of the judiciary and the executive by stating that the President/Governor of any state is not answerable to the courts in the country for actions and activities are undertaken in the exercise of the powers and duties of their office.
In I.C Golakhnath vs State of Punjab,the court observed that the constitution provides for a clear-cut demarcation of the three organs of the government that is: executive, judiciary, and executive and expects an approach of non-interference in the exercise of their respective powers. (Fundamental Rights Case)
In Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain, the court held that our constitution provides for a broader interpretation of the doctrine of separation of power, unlike the rigid interpretation that followed in the USA and Australia. (Election Case)
In Ram Jawaya vs The State of Punjab, the court observed that in India the doctrine of separation of power is not accepted in its rigid sense. The constitution differentiates between these powers but does not accept a deliberate interpretation of a rigid demarcation and there are instances of overlapping between these powers. (Punjab Book Distribution Case)
Instances of Overlapping of the Functions or Powers (A System of Checks and Balances)
With Legislative 1. Check on the amending power of legislature under Article 368 in accordance with the basic structure of the constitution (as laid down in Kesavananda Bharati Case).
2. Judicial review (Article 13).
With Judiciary 1. Appointment of CJI and other judges (Article 124 and 217). 2. Tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies discharging judicial functions (Articles 323A and 323B). 3. Powers to grant pardons, reprieve, respite, or remission of punishments or sentences of any person convicted of any offense (Article 72).
With Judiciary 1. Power to amend laws that have been declared ultra-vires, to bring them in accordance with the constitution. 2. Impeachment and removal of judges (Article 124 and 218). 3. Power to punish in case of a breach of its privilege (Article 105 and 194).
With Executive The Supreme Court functions as an Executive in order to bring about the complete justice, under Article 142(vii).
With Legislature 1. Power to promulgate ordinances (Article 123 and 213) which has the same effect as the laws made by parliament. 2. Delegated Legislation (Article 312).
With Executive 1. Impeachment of the President (Article 61). 2. The ministers in the Council of Ministers are elected members of the parliament.
Therefore, while the constitution provides for a separation of functions and powers of the government, it does not lay down any strict or rigid criteria for the same. Our constitutional mechanism focuses on the principle of checks and balances for the efficient functioning of the three organs of the government.
Too much power in hands of a few can be detrimental to the balance of society. A good example of this has been reflected through the famous snap of Thanos which led to the destruction of half of the universe. The reason for the same was the accumulation of all the infinity stones in hands of one person, which while making him powerful, opened the doors for abuse of the same.
Like infinity stones are placed in separate frames of time, our Indian Constitution provides for separation of powers, though flexible, yet important between the three organs of the government. This principle creates a mechanism of checks and balances between these organs by ensuring healthy overlapping and at the same time demarcating and reserving certain functions exclusive to all the three organs. Thus, the very values of separation of power and checks and balances are the infinity stones of the Indian constitution.
Editor’s Note This article talks about the Three Pillars of Our country that is Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. The author considers the example of Infinity Stones, from a Fiction movie and explains the entire concept of the three organs of Government. The powers are distributed in a flexible way among these three organs. The constitution takes up a flexible approach such that overlapping of powers and separation takes place in a healthy way.