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CONSTITUTIONAL SUPREMACY OR PARLIAMENTARY SOVEREIGNTY?

By: S Chinmayee Reddy

Introduction

Every civilised civilization or country on the planet needs rules, regulations, and laws in order for different segments of society to operate effectively. Laws and norms are required in any government to support balance and tranquillity and to guarantee the well-being of all individuals.

For the objective of creating laws, the constitution is regarded as the principal or highest law of the nation, providing a fundamental nature for laws and the rule of law, as well as defining the limits of different institutions of the government operating under the constitution.

The government’s institutions should operate inside the parameters established by the constitution. If there is indeed a conflict between both the constitution and another legislation, the provisions of the constitution always take precedence; this is called constitutional Supremacy.

In a democracy or sovereign states, the ability to establish laws is typically delegated to the parliament, which can enact new legislation or alter existing ones.

When the legislature is given complete (or limitless) authority to effect any legislation or change any current law without even being challenged by any institution, this is referred to as parliamentary supremacy or parliamentary sovereignty. 

CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Features Of Constitutional Supremacy

The following are basic features of constitutional supremacy: –

  • The constitution is written and strict
  • In terms of the constitution, Parliament was established and is still in operation.
  • There is a difference among constitutional law and common law.
  • The dominance of the constitution should indeed be supported by an explicit or implicit provisions of the constitution.
  • There has to be some constitutional authority to oversee the legitimacy or criminality of parliamentary acts.

Features Of Parliamentary Sovereignty

The following are the basic features of Parliamentary Sovereignty: –

  • Any legislation can be changed or modified by Parliament.
  • There is no higher power that may consider a legislation approved by parliament to be unlawful or invalid.
  • There really is no difference among constitutional law and common law.

The Indian Point of View

The Sovereignty of the Constitution is by far the most fundamental and significant element of Indian Sovereignty. The Indian Constitution is indeed the ultimate legislation of the country.

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It establishes basic elements, processes, and practices, as well as granting the administration and other state institutions privileges, responsibilities, and obligations. It confers constitutional supremacy rather than parliamentary supremacy since it is produced by a legislative assembly and approved by its citizens, as stated in its preamble. It is unassailable by the legislature.

The dominance of the constitution is a well-established concept that cannot be disputed in a real court. In addition to the Minerva Mills Issue, the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Planned Information Principle in the Kesavananda Bharti Case bolstered constitutional Supremacy.

It was decided that the parliament could not alter the constitution in order to eliminate or affect the exact meaning of the constitution, such as particular fundamental human rights. 

Judicial Review Concept

By dividing the authorities and responsibilities of distinct state institutions such as the legislative, executive, and judicial, the Indian constitution embodies the idea of division of powers.

However, in India, this philosophy is implemented with democratic accountability that functions as a pressure valve against irrationality.

To guarantee the supremacy of the constitution, the judiciary review has evolved over the years, in which the judiciary has the right to monitor any legislative, judicial, or executive activity or policy and, if discovered to be contrary to the constitution, get the authority to declare it unlawful.

Indian Constitutional Laws Backing the Constitution’s Supremacy

  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights and equal treatment. The phrase “Equality before the Law” is derived from English legal system, and it indicates that everybody is equally in the eyes of law, and nobody is above the legislation.
  • The Indian Constitution, under Article 124(1), allows for the creation of a Supreme Court of India.
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The Top Court of India is India’s superior judicial body, responsible for safeguarding and protecting constitutional values. It is the court’s responsibility to determine the legality of laws and constitutional changes.

Status Of United States Of America

The Supremacy phrase is found in Article VI of the United States Constitution. This supremacy clause demonstrates the constitution’s dominance in America.

This provision forbids the federal govt from enacting or modifying any legislation that is contrary to the constitution or any other specific law. 

Status Of United States Of United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, parliamentary or legislative supremacy takes precedence over constitutional supremacy. Parliamentary supremacy is the most important element of Parliamentary Sovereignty, which, unlike many other nations, is not a unique piece of writing.

The UK parliament has ultimate permission to enact or modify any legislation, and no judge or jury has the jurisdiction to call a statute into question or declare it unlawful. Furthermore, Parliament cannot enact any law that cannot be altered by the next parliament.

Status Of United States Of Finland

In Finland, the authority of the state is held by the citizens, represented by the members of parliament. Parliament has the only ability to enact legislation and overcome presidential votes.

It could also enact an urgent bill with a supermajority. In Finland, there really is no supreme court with the authority to declare any statute unlawful.

Status Of United States Of Israel

The legislative body of Israel has the authority to make any legislation, modify any law, or abolish any legislation with a majority vote, even if the new legislation contradicts Israel’s national principle.

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As a result, in Israel, the primacy of the parliament is established from the start.

Conclusion

We may draw from the preceding debate that the stance of the supremacy of the constitution is superior to the position of the supremacy of parliament. Parliamentary sovereignty in Indian is limited to the Indian Constitution, which incorporates judicial scrutiny.

Parliament may not enact or alter any legislation or constitutional amendment that contradicts the ideals of the constitution. The judiciary is given the authority to investigate legislative activities in order to serve as a monitor over the constitution and personal rights and liberties.

The constitution was its ultimate authority of the nation, but every institution of the government is bound to operate inside the framework of constitutional laws and concepts.

Author/Editor

Volume 1 Issue 4

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