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Professor Garner has given a nice and complete definition of state.

"The state is a
community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite
portion of territory, independent of external control and possessing an organized
government to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience".
The state is a community of persons more or less numerous occupying a definite
portion of territory completely free of external control and possessing an organized
government to which a great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience. James Garner
Weber defined the state as an entity that successfully claims a "monopoly of the
legitimate use of physical force within a given territory".
The state is the sovereign organization which holds a monopoly on the legitimate
use of violence within a well-defined territory. - Max Weber
Classification of Sovereignty:
1. Legal and Political Sovereignty:
Legal theory of sovereignty, in modern times, was first propounded by Jean Bodin
(1530-1596) in his famous book Six Books of a Commonwealth published in 1576. In
Bodins account sovereignty is the untrammeled and undivided power to make laws.
This power we call absolute power of the state.
Bodin designated law as the command of sovereignty. In his view sovereignty is not
only absolute power of the commonwealth but also the legal authority and naturally
none has any claim against such authority. Legal sovereignty is based upon the
contention that ultimate and final authority resides in law-making power and since
the sovereignty is law-making power it is the legal sovereignty.
Another great exponent of legal sovereignty is Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). His
Leviathan (1651) fully analyses the legal aspect of sovereignty. In this book Hobbes
says monopoly of coercive power is vested in the hands of sovereignty who is a
single person. Though he made an option that sovereignty might be vested even in
the hands of a group of persons his clear preference was for single person.
There is practically no difference between Bodins untrammeled and undivided
power and Hobbes supreme coercive power. Both indicate something and lead to
same consequences. Both Bodin and Hobbes propounded a legal and absolute
power of sovereignty.
Absoluteness of Bodins sovereignty can be illustrated by the following observation
made by him in his Six Books on Commonwealth. There is none on earth, after
God, greater than sovereign princes, whom God establishes as- his lieutenants to
command the rest of mankind. Besides God only the prince enjoys sovereign

De Jure and De Facto Sovereignty:

Another classification of sovereignty is de jure and de facto. The distinction between
the two is like that between power and authority. Legal sovereignty means power is
exercised in accordance with law and the sovereigntys claim to obedience is also
legal. It means that the claim to power and obedience is based on law.
The de jure sovereignty is legal sovereignty. The sovereign power is sanctioned by
law. The actions and character of the de jure sovereignty are sanctioned by law and
naturally none can challenge it on the question of legality on the other hand, de
facto sovereignty cannot claim any legal sanction since it is not based on legality.
2. Internal Sovereignty:
An internal sovereignty is one which enjoys ultimate, supreme and independent
power within the geographical area of the state. The order, directions etc. are
carried out by the citizens of the state and the policies and decisions are binding on
all citizens. The internal sovereignty may be both de jure and de facto.
The internal sovereignty also may be political and legal. The internal sovereignty
exercises its power over all citizens, groups and institutions and it has the power to
settle all disputes. But the sovereignty does not do this job itself; it has other
agencies who perform this task on behalf of the sovereignty. The concept of internal
sovereignty is said to be confined within a limited geographical area and it cannot
exercise power over the people of other places.
Location of Internal Sovereignty:
Internal sovereignty may be located in a single person as it was in Middle Ages. In
the middle Ages the monarchs were sovereigns and they claimed absolute power.
Because of this reason the monarchs were called absolute monarchies. Absolute
monarchs ruled the state autocratically. They also claimed to be the direct
descendants of God and had been sent by God to rule. In order to establish, the
absoluteness the kings very often declared them as direct descendants of God.
They also declared that they ruled according to wishes of God.
This however did not make a permanent place in society. Autocratic rule of the
monarchs was strongly resented by the people and a compromise was finally found
out. It was far short of popular sovereignty advocated by Rousseau. (We shall turn
to Rousseau very soon). The British legal philosopher John Austin (1790-1859)
enunciated a theory of sovereignty which is known as legal theory of sovereignty.
There is an international society or system and all the sovereign states are
members of this society. External sovereignty of any member state refers to its
positions in the international society. If a member state is subservient to another
state and is directed by other states in regard to both national and international

policies this is reverse to the sovereign status of the state. If a state remains out of
control of another state in international sphere we can call it external sovereignty.
Every state will however, obey the international code of conduct and that does not
entail the loss of sovereignty.
Criticism of External Sovereignty:
In the present day international situation the concept of external sovereignty is fully
incongruous because no nation can live alone and she cannot claim that she is not
dependent on any other nation. Long ago (in the thirties of the last century) Prof.
Harold Laski said, the notion of an independent sovereign state is, on the
international side, fatal to the well-being of humanity. England ought not to settle
what armament the needs, the tariffs she will erect, the immigrants she will permit
to enter.
The argument put forward by Laski is that common life is impossible without
common agreement and a common agreement cannot be effected in an
atmosphere where every nation demands absolute sovereign status. What Laski
said in the 1930s is still valid today.
(1) Permanence:
Permanence is the chief characteristics of sovereignty. Sovereignty lasts as long as
an independent state lasts. The death of the king, the overthrow of the government
and the addiction of power does not lead to the destruction of sovereignty.
We should keep in mind the basic fact that the king or the ruler exercises sovereign
power on behalf of the state and, therefore, sovereignty lasts as long as the state
lasts. The death of the king or the overthrow of the government does not affect
sovereignty. This is the reason why people in England used to say The King is dead,
long live the King.
Dr. Garner has beautifully summed up this idea in the following manner:
Sovereignty does not cease with the death or temporary dispossession of a
particular bearer or the re-organization of the state but shifts immediately to a new
bearer, as the centre of gravity shifts from one part of physical body to another
when it undergoes external change.
(2) Exclusiveness:
By exclusiveness we mean that there can be two sovereigns, in one independent
state and if the two sovereigns exist in a state, the unity of that state will be
destroyed. There cannot exist another sovereign slate within the existing sovereign
(3) All Comprehensiveness:
The State is all comprehensive and the sovereign power is universally applicable.
Every individual and every association of individual is subject to the sovereignty of

the state. No association or group of individuals, however, rich or powerful it may

be, can resist or disobey the sovereign authority.
Sovereignty makes no exception and grants no exemption to anyone. It grants
exemptions only in the case of foreign embassies and diplomatic representatives of
foreign countries on the reciprocal basis. This does not in any way restrict the
sovereignty of the state in the legal sense. The state can abolish and withdraw the
diplomatic privileges granted to foreigners.
(4) Inalienability:
Inalienability is another characteristic of sovereignty. Sovereignty is inalienable. By
inalienability we mean that the State cannot part with its sovereignty. In other
words, we can say that the sovereign does not remain the sovereign or the
sovereign state, if he or the state transfers his or its sovereignty to any other person
or any other state.
Sovereignty is the life and soul of the state and it cannot be alienated without
destroying the state itself. Lieber has very aptly remarked in this connection:
Sovereignty can no more be alienated than a tree can alienate its right to sprout or
a man can transfer his life or personality to another without self-destruction.
(5) Unity:
Unity is the very spirit of Sovereignty. The sovereign state is united just as we are
(6) Imperscriptibility:
By imprescriptibility, we mean that if the sovereign does not exercise his
sovereignty for a certain period of time, it does not lead to the destruction of
sovereignty. It lasts as long as the state lasts.
(7) Indivisibility:
Indivisibility is the life-blood of sovereignty. Sovereignty cannot be divided state,
American statesman Calhoun has declared, Sovereignty is an entire thing; to divide
it is to destroy it. It is the supreme power in a state and we might just well divide it
is to destroy it.
It is the supreme power in a state and we might just well speak of half square or
half a triangle as half a sovereignty. Gettell, has also very aptly remarked in this
regard, If sovereignty is not absolute, no state exists. If sovereignty is divided,
more than one state exists.
(8) Absoluteness:
Sovereignty is absolute and unlimited. The sovereign is entitled to do whatsoever he
likes. Sovereignty is subject to none.
(9) Originality:

By originality we mean that the sovereign wields power by virtue of his own right
and not by virtue of anybodys mercy.
"Sovereignty is the absolute and perpetual power of the state, that is, the greatest
power to command" - Jean Bodin (The Six Books on the State)
Sovereignty: Absolute
By absolute, we mean that no higher authority exists over the sovereign
Hence, rulers are not bound by laws
Rulers are bound by "contracts"
Sovereignty: Perpetual
By perpetual, we mean that it is not bound by tenure
At its crudest, it means that sovereignty lasts as long as the lifetime of he who
possesses the power.