Differences between Legal and Political Sovereignty are as follows:
Difference is sometimes drawn between legal and political sovereignty. The sovereign is supposed to be absolute and omnipotent. It functions according to its own will. Law is simply the will of sovereign. There is none to question its validity. Legal sovereign grants rights to its citizens and there can be no rights against him. It means rights of citizens depend on the will of legal sovereign and any time he can take away. Legal sovereign has following characteristics:
1. The legal sovereignty is always definite and determinate.
2. Legal sovereignty may reside either in one person or in a body of persons.
3. It is definitely organized, precise and known to law.
4. Rights of citizen are gift of legal sovereign.
5. The will of state is expressed by the legal sovereign only.
6. Legal sovereignty is absolute. It cannot be question. In Britain King in Parliament is the sovereign. In U.S the legal sovereign consists of the constitutional authorities. That have the power to amend constitution. But behind the legal sovereignty there is another power, which is unknown to law. It is political sovereignty. In practice absolute and unlimited authority of the legal sovereignty does not exist anywhere.
Even a dictator cannot act independently and exclusively. The will of legal sovereignty is actually sharpened by many influences, which are unknown to law. All these influences are the real power behind the legal sovereign; and this is called political sovereignty. As Professor Gilchrist says- “The political sovereign is the sum total of the influences in the state which lie behind the law”.
The political sovereignty is not known to law. In modern representative democracies the political sovereignty is very often identified with either the whole mass of the people or with electorate or with public opinion. The legal sovereign cannot act against the will of political sovereign.
Dicey says that “body is politically sovereign which the Lawyers recognize there is another sovereign to whom the legal Sovereign bow- that body is political sovereignty; that which is ultimately obeyed by the citizens of the state.” A lot of confusion arises when we attempt the exact definition of political sovereignty. It is a vague and indeterminate and cannot be located with exactness. It is suggested by some writers that there is no justification for making a distinction between legal and political sovereignty, as that involves the division of sovereignty, which is not possible.
When the sovereignty resides in the people of the state it is called as popular sovereignty. This theory was expounded by Rousseau, when later became, the slogan of French Revolution. The doctrine of popular sovereignty regards people as the supreme authority. It is people who decide right or wrong.
People are not bound by any natural or divine law. Government exists only as a tool for the good of the people. It should be held directly responsible to the people. It can exercise authority only on the basis of the law of land. Will of the people should not be ignored popular sovereignty is the basis of modern democratic system.
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