Military Functions of Executives

The executive has also the duty of defending the State against foreign aggression or internal revolt, in order to preserve its integrity and security. This function is performed by the Defence or War Department. It has the power to conduct war against other States, to defined the State against foreign invaders, to control and direct the three armed forces, — army, navy and air force, including rockets, or missiles for space warfare and to keep the country in war-preparedness both for defence and offence, by maintaining all kinds of military and defence installations, like military bases, cantonments, defence research, etc.

Advertisement

It declares war, makes peace, declares a State of emergency or martial law or a State of siege. In the parliamentary government, the military functions are performed with the confidence of the legislature. In the presidential government, the president must seek the concurrence of the congress for declaring war. In wartime, however, the powers of the executive are increased manifold, when many of the processes of law and democracy, like the fundamental rights, civil liberties, writs, elections, etc., are suspended. In simple words, the executive becomes the most important organ of the State during war-time.

B. Diplomatic Functions

Every State is sovereign and independent, but it must have relations of various kinds with other States. These are diplomatic or foreign relations. They are conducted by the Foreign or External Department, headed by the Foreign Minister or the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This Department appoints diplomatic representatives in foreign States, receives their diplomatic representatives, conducts negotiations for various kinds of treaties and agreements, such as defence treaties, friendship or commercial treaties and agreements, etc. In some States, e.g. U.S.A., the Ireaty-making power of the executive is subject to the approval and rntification of one or both Houses of the legislature. Nevertheless, the executive enjoys wide discretionary powers in the conduct of foreign policy nnd relations.

Legislative Functions

Normally, law-making is the concern of the legislature. But, in all modem States the executive also participates in it, depending on the form and structure of the State. The share of the executive in legislation is greater In the cabinet form of government and lesser in the presidential form of government. In the parliamentary or cabinet form of government, the executive directly and actively participates in law-making.-The ministers sit In the legislature, introduce bills for legislation and get them passed by guiding parliamentary debates and decisions. No bill, passed by the legislature, can become a law till it has an assent by the chief executive i.e., the King or the President. The power of the executive to reject such a bill is culled a veto. In law, the British King or Queen has the power of veto, but in practice the veto power has never been used since the days of Queen Anne 1(1702-14).

Furthermore, the executive has also the power to summon, idjourn, prorogue and even dissolve the legislature and order new general elections. In the presidential form of government, in spite of the separation of the legislative and executive powers, the latter has some legislative duties. The President has the right to send messages to the Congress, inform : it about the State of the nation, recommend new legislation and financial ■proposals or budget and call special sessions of the legislature. He has also the power to veto the bills passed by the Congress, which can, however, override it by an enhanced majority vote. Besides the control and guidance of the legislature, the executive now possesses two legislative powers also: the power of issuing ordinances and of the delegated legislation. The power |of issuing ordinances is frequently conferred on a president in a republic or successful manner.

While the legislature and the judiciary have demonstrated their incapacity or inadequacy to cope with the detail and the complexity of many problems of modern society, the executive leaders, whether prime ministers, presidents or dictators, show experience skill and resolution to tackle them successfully. Modern government needs such a leadership which is continuous and acknowledged, concentrated and co­ordinating, adequately informed and equipped. The executive alone is able to provide such a leadership and has, therefore, acquired more power and prestige.

Change in attitude

Lord Bryce has rightly said that with the rise of popular governments, the former suspicion of the executive power has vanished. He writes in Modem Democracies. “The executive power was long deemed dangerous to freedom, watched with suspicion, and hemmed in by legal restraints, but when the power of the people had been established by long usage, these suspicions have vanished.”

Decline of the legislatures

The legislatures have also declined in importance and influence due to several causes. They are over-burdened with work and cannot perform all their duties which they have to delegate to the executive. The system of territorial representation is defective and inadequate. The methods of election and party system do not encourage best men to enter them. The weaknesses and incompetence of the legislatures have, consequently, further lowered the prestige of the legislatures.

Delegated legislation

The legislatures now delegate law-making powers to the executive, as they find little or no time to pass adequate and detailed laws themselves, nor do they feel themselves competent to deal with the intricate details regarding the measures they pass. The executive departments make many subordinate laws and issue rules and regulations which are binding on the citizens. Delegated legislation has, therefore, made the executive organ not only the law-enforcing but also the law-making organ, thereby increasing its powers and importance.

Quantitative increase in governmental functions

Modern States have definitely renounced the individualistic view that the State is merely a policeman and can contribute nothing good to individual happiness. On the contrary, it has assumed manifold duties and functions, especially in the economic field. They are no longer law and order, States only. Many of them have become service or welfare States, and some of them have even become socialist States which perform far more functions than the welfare States.

Almost every modern State now deals with such matters as industry and agriculture, public health, sanitation, education, commerce and trade. They build roads, railways, bridge and communications, control floods and rivers, make canals and build dams and power plants, regulate currency, coinage and credit, prices and supply of food grains and other necessaries of life. They plan for industrial and agricultural development, etc., in the Communist Countries; the State performs far more function than those enumerated above. As the legislature cannot perform them adequately, because it lacks time and expert knowledge, they are necessarily performed by the executive. This fact has tended to increase its powers and importance.

The elected executive

Unlike the monarchies of old, when the executive heads, the kings or emperors, were hereditary rulers, the modern executive is usually elected by the people, whether he may be a president or a prime minister. The elected executive enjoys greater powers and more prestige, partly because he holds his office by general consent and partly because he is supported by an organised political party.

Party discipline

Another cause of the growth of the executive power is the organisation and rigour of party discipline over its members. Political parties are-well-organised and exercise strict control and discipline over their members, whether they are ruling or opposition parties. The ruling parties must do so to keep themselves in power and the opposition parties in order to overthrow the existing cabinets and seize political power. They control their members even in the legislatures during parliamentary debates and voting on the bills or policy. The legislatures are, therefore, reduced to “registering ciphers”. They pass the laws which are introduced and backed by the executive.

Public opinion

The executive has acquired greater control over the agencies of public opinion, like the television, the radio, the press, etc. This has also reduced the importance of the legislature as a free organ for expressing public opinion.

Modem wars

Modern wars are total wars, especially since the World War I. They have enhanced the powers of the executive. Moreover, the habits acquired during wartime tend to persist during peace-time. People continue to look to leadership from the executive even when the war is over, especially in modem times, when all nations, led by the superpowers, are busy preparing feverishly for another global or regional war.

Rise of dictatorships

Modern dictatorships frankly proclaim the predominance of the executive over legislature. They recognise no restrictions, constitutional or otherwise, on the powers and authority of the dictators, who have concentrated all powers into their hands, free from all legislative consent or function. The dictator controls the ruling political party and through it the legislature, if any. He has no need for judicial review or restraint.

The executive has also assumed many judicial powers, even in democratic States, such as the administrative law.

Advertisement

No comments.

Leave a Reply

Advertisement