The Judiciary is that branch of government that is primarily responsible for the interpretation of the law and dispensation of justice. It is made up of the different courts and the judges or magistrates therein. It is the duty of the judiciary to interpret the laws and apply the existing law to individual cases in order to maintain equilibrium between one citizen and another, and between citizens and the government.
In view of the crucial role of the judiciary in the political system, it is imperative that the judiciary should be impartial and therefore maintain a balance. The judiciary must be politically neutral all the time. The judiciary is expected to be independent to enable it to function effectively. Its fundings and conditions of service are different from other organs of government in most countries of the world. It is therefore necessary to choose men of transparent honesty and with expert knowledge in law to manage our judiciary.
Functions of the Judiciary
1. The primary function of the Judiciary is to interpret law by applying the existing law to individual cases.
2. The Judiciary also interprets the constitution whenever there is disagreement and serves as the custodian of the constitution generally.
3. The Judiciary acts as a check against the excesses of members of the executive and the legislature.
4. Settling quarrels or cases between the executive and the legislature.
Relationship between the Judiciary and the Legislature
From the above discussion, law making is the primary function of the legislature. However, the judiciary in the process of interpreting the laws also makes new laws to supplement the existing ones. Members of the judiciary are usually appointed by the executive and have to accept the constitution as binding. Appointments of members of the Judiciary are usually presented to the Legislature for approval. For instance, the appointment of the Chief Justice, the President of the Federal Court of Appeal, and Judges of the Supreme Court must receive the consent of the Senate in Nigeria. Again, in some countries, the Supreme Courts are empowered to declare any law made by the Legislature and which is not compatible with the provisions of the Constitution, unconstitutional, null and void.
Relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive
The Executive appoints members of the judiciary. The Executive also performs some judicial functions by granting pardon or other forms of clemency to persons convicted of crimes.
The judiciary on the other hand has the powers to review administrative acts and ensure proper accountability by members of the Executive. This is an essential ingredient of modern democracy.