The Madras High Court on Monday quashed two state government orders that empowered the police to act as executive magistrates, reported The Hindu.

The orders, passed by the Tamil Nadu government in 2013 and 2014, gave deputy commissioners of police the power to take action against habitual offenders. This included powers to sign bonds, forfeit bond amounts, issue show-cause notices, and consequently imposing sentences on habitual offenders who breached their bonds, according to Bar and Bench.

These powers usually are held by executive magistrates under Sections 107 and 110 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Madras High Court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging several orders passed by deputy commissioners of police in the state since they were granted the power. The petitioners argued that the decision by the state was a violation of the principles of separation of powers.

It was also examining whether executive magistrates had the power to order arrests or impose sentences under Section 122 (imprisonment in default of security) of the CrPC for breach of bonds executed under Sections 107 and 110 of the CrPC.

On Monday, a division bench of Justices N Sathish Kumar and N Anand Venkatesh warned that giving the police powers that belong to the judiciary could lead to anarchy, reported Live Law.

“In other words, the entire process of investigation, prosecution and adjudication have now been arrogated by one branch of the executive – the police,” the court said. “When the khaki and the judicial robes are blended and cast on one officer, the resultant picture is one of executive anarchy.”

The bench also held that executive magistrates themselves do not have the power to order arrests or impose sentences for breaking conditions of their bond, and added that this can be done only by a judicial magistrate.

The court also noted that no reason was provided by the government behind its orders, and added that the orders were passed merely passed on the direction of former chief minister J Jayalalitha, reported Bar and Bench.

“We are shocked, to say the least, that such proceedings which have a bearing on the liberty of the subject are conducted in a manner that resembles a game of musical chairs within the police department,” the division bench noted.