Judicial Arm of Government: Functions and Limitations

The Judicial arm of government can also be called the Judicial branch or Judicial organ of government.

The Judiciary is a branch of government that interprets the law to administer justice in line with the law. The main function of the Judiciary is to administer justice by way of interpreting the law. Courts are supposed, as such agencies, must act independently to ensure the strict dispensation of justice.

The Judiciary is the only organ of government that does not go by-election. Instead, the Justices, Judges, Magistrates and other court functionaries are constituted by appointment. Due to these appointments, the Executive exercises it’s powers against it; where the Justices are appointed and also removed by the President. For this reason, countries advocate for the Independence of the Judiciary. However, besides the dependence on the Judiciary, it still performs its functions adequately.

In this article, we shall examine the functions of the Judicial arm of government, including their limitations.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Judiciary

Interpretation of the law

The main function is to administer justice and deliver it as expeditiously, efficiently or in any other manner by the way thereof which does not violate the rights of others. It does this by looking at the law and interpreting it literally or connotatively to get what the law wants.

The legislature makes the law, the Judiciary interprets it, and the Executive enforces it.

The law is different from what it appears to be. One cannot understand it literally. This is why some people say “Lawyers are liars “. Lawyers and judges scrutinize a particular law before applying it to a case to ensure that it does the justice it is meant to do.

Judicial Review | Judicial arm of government

Judicial review is the process in which the Court validates or invalidates the laws made by the legislature. Whenever it embarks on Judicial review, it scrutinizes the laws to ensure that it’s consistent with the Constitution of the country. If the Judiciary finds any laws inconsistent, it recommends their repeal or amendment at once. It will then be the legislature’s function to amend the law or repeal it.

Protection of the fundamental human rights

The Judiciary protects fundamental human rights using the Constitution. When a person feels his right has been infringed upon, he can proceed to the Court to restore his rights.

Humans cannot exist without fundamental rights. This is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlined human rights. The most important human right is the right to life. This is because it deals with human life. You can only claim other rights when you are alive.

Punishment of law offenders

The Judiciary punishes the lawbreakers after interpreting and weighing the crime or offense committed. After weighing it, it strikes (gives punishment). It provides a penalty according to what the law says. The law has a punishment attached to each offense or crime.

Checks on other arms government

All the arms of government checkmate on each other to ensure the moderate exercise of powers. The Judiciary checkmates on other arms by declaring the actions of either the Executive or Legislature unconstitutional.

It has the power to declare the President’s or his ministers’ actions unlawful. After that, it applies the necessary measures as the Constitution states.

The judicial arm of government in Nigeria | Powers

The roles and responsibilities of the Judiciary in Nigeria is not different from those we have above. However, the structure has differences, though with the same function in all places. I found it necessary to comment on it a little.

The Judiciary is established by section 230-296 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. It also established courts in Nigeria in section 6(5)(a)-(I). Section(j) allows the legislature to establish other relevant courts.

Moving on, Nigeria’s judicial arm of government functions to ensure and promote fair administration under legal order. It has four functions which include:

  1. To enforce judicial orders.
  2. Receive a copy, but do not verify it at any point (on request), collect evidence from witnesses for trial or adjudication that provides support on an existing prosecution claim against another party with which the parties are amicably settled.
  3. Promote settlement agreements by accepting payments made directly as payment towards costs incurred relating other litigation between Parties through arbitration proceedings only.
  4. Guide dispute resolution procedures involving administrative action, including injunctions related thereto.

Courts are established at different levels to ensure grassroots justice, including the local government.

Limitations of the Judicial arm of Government

The functions of the Judiciary as it has some impediments. In other words, it has some roadblocks which seem to stop it from doing somethings. However, such limitation is for the good of all the citizens and the government itself.

Some of these limitations include:

  • The Constitution
  • Other arms of government
  • Control by the executive arm

These factors affect it in different ways. To see full details on this, check the post and restrictions of the Judiciary.

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