February 18, 2021

Separation of powers and the checks and balances system

Separation of powers and the checks and balances system is the base of American Constitution. According to Montesquieu, the power should be shared in three organs of the government. and every organ will act like a check on the other. And the three Organs of the govt. are Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.


The main concept in the Doctrine of Separation of powers and the checks and balances system is that the same person who crates the law should not implement it and give judgments against the persons who violates the the Law.


Montesquieu Presents his theory in these words :

In every government there are three sorts of power. Legislative , Executive, Judicial. The liberty of individual requires that neither all these powers nor any two of them should be placed in the hands of one man or one body of men.

Relevant Opinions

James Madison also famous as “The father of constitution” Said that Montesquieu meant by his theory that one man having the powers of one department should not have the powers of another department at the same time.

The Main Idea of Separation of Powers and The Checks and balances System (Essentials)

The Main Idea in the doctrine of separation of power is that the same person or institute will not pass the law, execute or implement the same law and give judgements against the person who violates the law. All the three founding pillars of government will be independent of each other. But they will keep an eye or checks and balances on each other to make a better System.


The Doctrine of Separation of Powers is the base of American constitution. As It is not written explicitly in the constitution, but impliedly written as:

  • Article 1 , Section 1 Says: All legislative powers herein granted , shall be vested in a congress of the United States.
  • Section 1 of Article 2 says: Executive Power shall be vested in a president of United States of America.
  • Article 3 , Section 1 says : Judicial powers shall be vested in the one supreme court of America, and in such inferior courts as congress may time to time ordain establish.

Position In America [Scope]

The complete separation of powers may cause a deadlock in the system so it is implemented in its modified form in USA, as given below :

  1. President can influence congress by
    • Sending messages to senate
    • By his Suspensive Power of Veto
  2. The congress can influence executive by calling departmental heads before its committee
  3. The president can appoint judges and great pardons.
  4. President can make treaties but need to get consent from congress by two third majority.
  5. The Congress can pass a law, But the judges can declare the law unconstitutional which is passed by the congress.
  6. The senate has the power to impeach the president, reject the appointment of an official and accept or reject the treaties made by president.

Position In Pakistan

Pakistan’s system of government is based on Partially the American federal presidential system and partially on British parliamentary system. As there is a president in Pakistan like America, and a prime minister just like United Kingdom. So we can say that pakistan has a hybrid system of government.

Limitation of Separation of Power and The Checks and balances System

The emergence of political parties and the leadership of president in proposals affects the Checks and Balances System. hence the above system has the limitations as mentioned below :

  • It is a Complex System.
  • Loose Co-ordination among the organs of govt.
  • It can create Departmental Rivalries.
  • It Creates Frustration in the Departments.
  • Fear of Impeachment
  • There is No Central Authority


To conclude the discussion, I will say the Doctrine of Separation of powers or the checks and balances system is the foundation of the American Political system. And it has many benefits as well as some limitations and concerns. hence some law makers criticize the system. So it is applied in its modified form in America.



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