[Model Answer QP2023 GS2] Compare and contrast, the British and Indian approaches to Parliamentary sovereignty.


Parliamentary Sovereignty is a concept in constitutional law that refers to the supreme legal authority of a parliament to legislate without being bound by written law or judicial review. It implies that the legislature can, in theory, make, amend, or repeal any law without external restraint.
British Approach to Parliamentary SovereigntyIndian Approach to Parliamentary Sovereignty
OriginRooted in the historical evolution of the British Constitution, especially after the Glorious Revolution (1688)Derived from the Indian Constitution adopted in 1950, combining features from various global constitutions, including the British.
DoctrineEmphasizes that Parliament is the supreme legal authority and can make, modify, or repeal any law.The Indian Parliament is subject to the Constitution. The Constitution holds supreme legal authority
Constitution TypeNo single written constitution. Derived from constitutional conventions, statutes, and judicial decisionsComprehensive written constitution outlining the framework and limits of parliamentary functions.
LimitationsMembership in international bodies (like the EU, before Brexit) placed certain limits.The Constitution enumerates powers and limits. Laws contravening the Constitution can be declared void
Judiciary’s RoleJudiciary traditionally doesn’t overrule or declare a parliamentary statute unconstitutional.Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, has the power of judicial review. Can declare laws as unconstitutional if they violate constitutional provisions
FlexibilityDue to an unwritten constitution, the principle is flexible and can evolve.The Constitution provides stability but can be amended by Parliament. However, the “basic structure” doctrine ensures core principles remain unaltered.


While the British system underscores an almost absolute sovereignty of the Parliament, the Indian system places the Constitution at the pinnacle, ensuring a balance of power and upholding democratic principles through checks and balances.

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