There are possibilities and chances of people getting to extremes in life. These extreme stands of people make the accommodation and acceptance of the rest of the positions difficult. To avoid such situations, the principle of checks and balances come into play where people are prevented from going to the extremes by various means and mechanisms. Once people are prevented from going to extremes, there remain greater possibilities of accommodation and acceptance of people and points of views which fall outside ones comfort zone.
Not only this, the principle of checks and balances are used to keep powerful people and institutions in control thereby preventing them from encroaching the space which duly belongs to the less powerful people and other institutions when the question is about institutions. In absence of checks and balances, political life could lose its order and the governance can turn into anarchy.
Democracy, as a form of government, is the government of checks and balances. In this form of government, each branch is made accountable and responsible; each of these is supervised by the other and vice versa. This form of government is in the best interests of the people, from an ideal type perspective.. The doctrine behind this form of government is collective wisdom which means that, howsoever, wise a person may be he cannot be wiser than the wisdom of many. So, collective wisdom demands the inclusion of checks and balances; this has been duly introduced in all the democratic constitutions and governments of the world.
The legislature is made accountable to the people and dependent for interpretation and implementation upon the other two branches of the executive and judiciary. The other two branches in the same manner are made accountable to the representatives of the people, the legislature, and receive their powers from the popular sovereign. Overall, the arrangement is so made that every branch looks into the work of the other and are dependent and independent of each other.
Voting rights of people in elections are an important check on the legislature; the judiciary is another check which prevents the legislature from making laws which are against the content and sprit of the constitution and the executive supplies all the information to the legislature for making laws which are in the best interests of the people and country.
The executive is directly supervised by the legislature and in case this branch of government trespasses its jurisdiction it is prevented by appropriate edicts by the legislature or else the judiciary gets involved. And, in case of the judiciary, the legislature has the important role of appointing the people of impeccable careers to the posts delivering justice. If the judges so appointed fail to work impartially and are unable to deliver justice as per the constitutional requirements and the demands of law they could be impeached.
This is the ideal system of checks and balance in a democratic government and by this scheme the governance of the country is tried to run in the best interests of the ruled. Had these checks and balances not been introduced in this form of government democracy could have easily degenerated into mobocracy or anarchy.
All this is in the nature of the constitutional scheme and about the ideal form of democracy but is the actual exactly the same? The answer is that , in practice, the ideal is far deviated from actual. In many countries , checks and balances are failing and the doctrine of the collective wisdom is getting defeated. In the subcontinent most of the countries are facing this problem but in case of India the problem is turning acute. The basics and fundamentals of governance and the violations of the democratic organs are witnessed every day, including the violation of the principle of the checks and balances.
After the three branches of the government, there is the fourth one, the media. The world over media is looked upon with hope; when all the other agencies and institutions fail, the media is expected to come to the aid of the people. Unfortunately , the same media is losing its credibility, the same media which is thought as ultimate recourse of people when the other options are not working. This branch of democracy seems to be working against the interests of the people and the world in association with some people in power who are interested in serving their own interests and have no care about those of the people.
In India, conditions , with respect to media, especially the corporate media, are worse. This media is always searching for television rating points and everything else is secondary and subservient to it. The news bulletins have become pure and simple propaganda not only against a foreign country but against the same very people who are called as popular sovereign in a democratic country. The debates and discussions on the news channels are lost in the din and commotion created deliberately to gain TRPs. All the ethics and morals of journalism are thrown to dust in these shows. Above, all no checks and balances are least cared for, whatever sell is sold without caring about the veracity or otherwise of the news.
The discussions and debates which are actually intended to find the answers to the questions and resolve disputes and conflicts have turned into problems themselves. They have fallen into the hands of jingoistic ultranationalists who are doing nothing but eating out the vitals of the country from within and weaken the base and fundamentals of the country.
The principle of checks and balances are a very important safeguard for preventing the democratic government turning arbitrary. It is also sure guarantee against the underperformance of different branches of government.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org