Parliamentary Sovereignty

Parliamentary Sovereignty - Constitutional Organs

What is Sovereignty?

In its popular sense, the term sovereignty means supremacy or the right to demand obedience. 

In the British Constitution, the legislative authority alone resides in Parliament while executive authority resides in the crown.

It is to be noted that, though the Indian Constitution provides for the parliamentary form of Government but unlike Britain, the Parliament is not supreme under the Indian Constitution. In India, the Constitution is supreme. In England, laws passed by the parliament cannot be declared unconstitutional while the Indian Constitution expressly vests this power in the courts.

The Indian Parliament is the creature of the Constitution and derives all its powers from the Constitution. It is not a sovereign body.

Under the Indian Constitution, Article 53 provides that the executive power of the Indian Union is vested in the President of India. Legislative power resides in Parliament which comprises the President, the Council of States and the House of the People.

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The Constitution can be amended only when the amending bill after being duly passed as required by article 368, has received the assent of the President.

According to Austin, the sovereign possesses unlimited powers, but experience shows that there is no power on earth which can wield unlimited powers.

It is suggested that sovereignty may be located in the constitution-amending body. However, that cannot be done in India whose Constitution does not prescribe only one procedure for amending the Constitution. Some amendments can be made by Parliament itself without the concurrence of the States.

Some amendments mentioned in the Proviso to Article 368 of the Indian Constitution require in addition ratification by the legislatures of one-half of the States. As there is not one constitution-amending body for all purposes, it is not the repository of sovereign power. Moreover, the constitution-amending body functions rarely and it is artificial to ascribe sovereignty to it.

Parliamentary Sovereignty

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By Hassham

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