The Drive Towards Centralisation of Judicial Power by the Executive

As the drive towards centralisation of power continues, after the consolidation of military power and economic power, the next step, to gain full control over the citizenry and the internal operations of the society, would be to take control of the judicial power.  An independent judiciary is a check upon an unrestrained power of the executive, just as an independent legislative body that controls the purse strings would be a similar check on the development of an all-powerful executive or sovereign.  It is interesting to note that in the development of the Constitution of the United States, these principles were both clearly understood and acted upon, with a conscious effort to provide checks and balances through three separate and independent branches of government, Executive, Legislative and Judicial.  These three have a dynamic tension and when one takes on more power, the others generally try to protect their turf and provide pushback.  The system is not perfect, inasmuch as the appointments to the judiciary come through the legislative and executive branches, and the two-party system has created circumstances whereby the executive and legislative branches may actually work in tandem to circumvent the checks and balances, and defeat the intentions of the drafters of the Constitution to maintain checks and balances to avoid a centralised authority from seizing control.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The gathering of the essential powers of administration into the hands of the sovereign is completed when there is unity and uniformity of judicial administration, — especially of the criminal side; for this is intimately connected with the maintenance of order and internal peace.  And it is, besides, necessary for the ruler to have the criminal judicial authority in his hands so that he may use it to crush all rebellion against himself as treason and even, so far as may be possible, to stifle criticism and opposition and penalise that free thought and free speech which, by their continual seeking for a more perfect social principle and their subtle or direct encouragement to progress, are so dangerous to established powers and institutions, so subversive of the dominant thing in being by their drive towards a better thing in becoming.  Unity of jurisdiction, the power to constitute tribunals, to appoint, salary and remove judges and the right to determine offences and their punishments comprise on the criminal side the whole judicial power of the sovereign.”

Eventually the ruler will also try to bring civil law under his purview, but some flexibility in this direction does not impede the focusing of sovereign power, as would an independent criminal judiciary.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 21, The Drive towards Legislative and Social Centralisation and Uniformity, pg. 181