Possession of sovereignty makes the state omnipotent

Author: Shreya Rajan, Faculty of Law, ICFAI University, Dehradun

The word ‘sovereignty’ has been taken from the Latin word ‘superanus’, meaning supreme. Thus, sovereignty means supreme power. The possession of sovereignty makes the state omnipotent.  Prof. Laski says, “It is by possession of sovereignty that the state is distinguished from all other forms of human associations.” Also, sovereignty is one of the most basic features of the Constitution of India, and is aptly so mentioned in the Preamble (The Preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve.) of the same, inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976.

There are two aspects of sovereignty; Internal Sovereignty which refers to the residents of the state and the various associations formed by them. The state is empowered to order each individual and association within its jurisdiction and all of them are bound to obey the command of the state. On the contrary, the state does not obey any order from its residents or their associations and External Sovereignty – This means that the state is not under the control or influence of any foreign power in respect of its foreign or international affairs. To establish or not to establish diplomatic relations with other states is the sweet will of the state. In fact, it is the discretion of the state to make trade relations with other states. Similarly, to take sides in wars, to conclude peace treaties and to recognize other states is the sovereign domain of the state. The very basic characteristics of sovereignty include originality, permanence, absoluteness, exclusiveness, universality, indivisibility and unity. Further, sovereignty is divided into three types- the legal sovereignty, political sovereignty and popular sovereignty.Legal sovereignty in a state is that supreme power which has the right to issue final orders and people have to abide by those final orders of the sovereign. It has the supreme authority to make any law. The legal sovereign can violate morality, public principles and religious norms, but nobody in the state can violate the commands of the legal sovereign. This sovereign is quite clear and the various courts in the state recognize him as such. He is unlimited, definite and indivisible. The law of the state is the expression of his will and these are always considered correct and legal. The legal sovereign is also the source of all the rights and against his wishes no individual can enjoy any right worth the name. Political Sovereignty is that authority in the state upon which the legal sovereignty is based. It influences the decisions of the legal sovereign. Legal Sovereignty is only in the legal sense and not in practical life because there is no person or group of persons who has absolute power in the state. Even the dictators are subject to some limitations. They too have to consider the public interest. Hence, the legal sovereign is particularly concerned about the political sovereignty. Although political sovereignty is unorganised and unclear, it certainly influences the legal sovereignty. The legal sovereign can ignore the electorates, public opinion, and public interest only at his own risk. Thus, there should be a relationship between political and legal sovereignty. Also, a new aspect of sovereignty of the state emerged in the 16th and 17th century. It was termed as popular sovereignty. This principle of sovereignty is still very popular in modern world. Legal sovereignty is definite and unclear, but we know that behind it there is another sovereignty known as political sovereignty. The political sovereignty is also made and influenced by another sovereignty which is called the popular sovereignty. The expression of popular sovereignty is done by political sovereignty and legal sovereignty gives it a legal form and executes it. Whenever a revolution takes place, the dormant popular sovereignty becomes active. In order to maintain peace and stability in administration, it is imperative for the legal sovereign to get the support of popular sovereignty because it is the ultimate power in a democratic state. Any government trying to suppress popular sovereignty can therefore, not last long. Popular sovereignty, through political sovereignty, tries to adopt various methods to make the government responsible.

Sovereignty is the basic characteristic, an undetectable part of theory country and hence care should be taken not to hamper this power in anyway.








This Article was prepared or accomplished by Shreya Rajan in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the

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