sovereignty; Meaning, Definition, Characteristics

Question; Describe the various features of Sovereignty.

Or" What is meant by "Sovereignty?" Describe its features.

Or" Describe the definition and characteristics of "sovereignty".

Or "Explain Austin's sovereignty principle.

Or" What do you understand by Sovereignty? Describe its main features.


Sovereignty is also called Rajsatta or Prabhusatta in Hindi. In English, it is called sovereignty, derived from the Latin word 'Suprenus', which means 'supreme power'. State power is a special feature of the state and is the most important element out of the four elements that make up the state.

Meaning of Sovereignty (What is Sovereignty?)

Sovereignty is another name for the supreme willpower of the state. All individuals and institutions of the state are subject to sovereignty. Sovereignty is paramount from both external and internal points of view.

Sovereignty refers to the power of the state, due to which the state is free to do anything within its borders. All individuals or communities are within the state; nothing is above the state. From the external point of view, sovereignty means the state is independent of any external authority's direct or indirect control.

Sovereignty is one of the most important elements of the state. Due to this, the state gets a special place apart from other institutions(organisations). Of course, three other state elements can be found in other organisations as well, but sovereignty is only an element of the state.

The concept of sovereignty holds special importance in political theory. Greek theorists were not familiar with this word. We can see that Aristotle used the term 'supreme power' of the state in a different sense. In the Middle Ages, jurists, religious scholars and other writers used terms such as the supreme power of the state or the ultimate authority of the state in a different sense than what is now applied to the term 'sovereignty'. The credit for using and defining this word goes to Jean Bonda of France. He used the French word ' soverenite' in his book published in 1576, which became the English synonym 'sovereignty'. In his words, sovereignty is the state's supreme power over citizens beyond the control of law.

Definition of Sovereignty

Bodan says, "Sovereignty is the supreme authority of the state over its subjects and citizens, which is not restricted by any legislation."

According to Grosius, "Sovereignty is the supreme power that belongs to one, over which there is no restriction, and whose will cannot be neglected by anyone."

According to Soltau, "Sovereignty is the supreme legal power to rule by the state."

According to Burgess, "Sovereignty is the original, absolute and infinite power of the state over all individuals and communities of individuals."

In the words of Duggi, "Sovereignty is that supreme power of the state which grants permission to every person residing in the territory of the state without any restriction".

According to Willoughby, "Sovereignty is the state's best will."

According to Jenks, "Sovereignty is that final and inalienable right by which citizens can do something only by their will.

According to Pollock, "Sovereignty is that power which is neither temporary, nor bestowed by others, nor bound by certain laws which it cannot change, and which cannot be changed by any other power on earth." are liable.

According to Laski, "The state gives orders to all the persons and community of individuals situated in its territory, but it receives orders from none of them."

The essence of the above definitions of Sovereignty is that the state has paramount power in a certain area. But most of these definitions are one-sided. They release only one side of Sovereignty – internal Sovereignty, while Sovereignty has two sides – internal Sovereignty and external Sovereignty. Here both the aspects of Sovereignty can be briefly considered--

Internal Sovereignty

Internal Sovereignty means that no person, community or organization, no matter how big, old and powerful they may be, residing within the geographical boundary of the state, can be over the state's Sovereignty.

Laski has written, "The state commands all the people and communities of the state, and none of these commands it.

In the words of Garner, "Sovereignty extends over the entire territory of the state and is subject to all individuals and communities within a state."

External Sovereignty

The external side of sovereignty means that any sovereign state is free to make its foreign policy and establish relations with foreign countries. Laski describes sovereignty as the power to express the will of independent nations, on which there is no need to be influenced by any external power.


Sovereignty is the supreme power of the state by which control over all the individuals and communities situated within the definite territory of the state is kept. As a result, a state can establish relations with other states like itself.

Features or Characteristics of Sovereignty

Following are the characteristics of sovereignty--

1. Immeasurability

The first and last characteristic of sovereignty is its being supreme and limitless. The sovereignty of the state is absolute and limitless. This means that it cannot be limited even by law. Sovereignty is not dominated or controlled by any other power. He is completely independent in internal and external matters. He is not obliged to obey the orders of any other power, but all the people residing within the country obey his orders. If a power limits sovereignty, then the limiting power becomes sovereign.

2. Durability (permanence)

It is not that sovereignty lasts only for a short time. There is stability in the sovereignty of the state. Changing government in democratic states does not affect sovereignty because sovereignty is not the government's property; it is known as the state's property. The end of sovereignty means the end of the state.

3. Originality (primordiality)

The third feature of sovereignty is that it is the fundamental power of the state; that is, it does not get this power from anyone else, but the state acquires and uses it. At the same time, sovereignty is the supreme power. It can neither be given to anyone nor taken from anyone.

4. Pervasiveness (Ubiquity)

The country's power and human community reside in the subjection of sovereignty. No person can claim to be free from its control. The state can grant some special rights to a particular person or give the right of self-government to any province. The state provides post-state sovereignty to foreign kings from foreign ambassadors, but this does not limit the authority and power of the state. It is as pervasive after doing this as it was before.

5. Inalienability

Since sovereignty is absolute and infinite, it cannot be delegated to anyone else. Therefore, if the sovereign state wants to transfer its sovereignty to someone else, its existence will disappear.

In other words, when sovereignty is lost from the hands of the state, it will cease to be a state. If a state surrenders a part of its territory to another state, then its sovereignty over that part will cease, and the sovereignty of the other state will be established. If a sovereign abdicates the throne or authority, the government changes in such a situation, but the place of sovereignty does not change.

Garner has said that, "Sovereignty is the personality and soul of the state. Therefore, just as man's personality is indestructible and cannot be passed on to another, the sovereignty of the state cannot be given to anyone else."

Rousseau says that, "the common will in sovereignty, being a rite of passage, cannot be dissolved ... ..power can be transferred, but will not."

Lever said, "Just as a man cannot separate his life or the tree from its fruitfulness without suicide, sovereignty cannot be separated from the state."

6. Inseparability

Sovereignty is absolute and omnipresent, so it cannot be fragmented. The state will also be torn apart if sovereignty is torn to pieces. The authority exercised by other groups or institutions in respect of their members is not given to them by deducting them from the sovereignty of the state, but it is a product of the sovereignty of the state. In front of the state's sovereignty, the authority of all other individuals and institutions is secondary. Even under the federal system, sovereignty is not divided into federations and units, but their jurisdiction is divided concerning specified subjects. This distribution of jurisdiction or any amendment in them is also possible only through the exercise of sovereignty.

According to Calhoun, "The Supreme Being is a perfect thing. To divide it is to destroy it. It is the supreme power of the state. Therefore, just as we cannot conceive of a half-class or a half-triangle, so also the semi-supreme being. cannot be imagined."

Gettel has also said, "If sovereignty is not absolute, then no state can exist. If sovereignty is divided, it means more than one state exists."

7. Uniqueness

Sovereignty is considered exclusive. This means that there can be only one sovereign power in the state. Sovereignty has no rival in its territory. Because if two sovereigns are accepted in one state, then the unity of the states is destroyed. Within a sovereign state, another sovereign state cannot exist.

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