As per the dictionary meaning the word sovereign means “one possesses supreme political power”; and another meaning of the word is “having independent authority and the right to govern itself”.
The Preamble of India proclaims India as a state to be sovereign, it testifies to the fact that India is no longer a dependency or colony or possession of British Crown. As a sovereign independent state, India is free both internally and externally to take her own decisions and implement these for her people and territories.
While we compare the legislature system then we say that the British Parliament is a sovereign legislature and the Parliament of India is non-sovereign legislature. The doctrine of “sovereignty of Parliament” is associated with the British Parliament and this principle has three implications:
- The Parliament can make, amend, substitute or repeal any law.
- The Parliament can make constitutional laws by the same procedure as ordinary laws.
- The Parliamentary laws cannot be declared invalid by the Judiciary as being unconstitutional. In order words, there is no system of judicial review in Britain.
Now we list the differences related to power of Indian and UK Parliament. These differences also limit the sovereignty of Indian parliament.
- Written nature of the constitution: The Indian parliament operates within the limits as prescribed in the constitution. Whereas the constitution of Britain is neither written nor there is anything like a fundamental law of the land.
- Federal system of governance: India has a federal system of government with a constitutional division of powers between the union and the states. Britain has a unitary system of government and hence, all the powers are vested in the Centre.
- System of Judicial Reviews: The adoption of an independent Judiciary with the power of judicial review also restricts the supremacy of our Parliament. The British Courts have to apply the Parliamentary laws to specific cases, without examining their constitutionality, legality or reasonableness.
- Fundamental rights: Article 13 prohibits the State from making a law that either takes away totally or abrogates in part a fundamental right. In Britain, on the other hand, there is no codification of justiciable fundamental rights.
In this regard, the Indian Parliament is similar to the American Congress. In USA also, the sovereignty of Congress is legally restricted by the written character of the constitution, the federal system of government, the system of judicial review and the Bill of Rights.