Short Note on Austin’s Theory of Sovereignty

John Austin, the famous English Jurist, provided the most elaborate analysis of the legal theory of sovereignty. His theory is also known as Monistic Theory. In spite of several criticisms the basic principles of his theory still serve as the basis for modern jurisprudence.

Austin’s theory of sovereignty is purely legal or juristic. In simple language it means that:

  1. In every independent political community there exists a sovereign power. In other words sovereignty is an essential attribute of an independent political society.
  2. The sovereign is a determinate person or body of persons. It cannot be an indefinite body or a vague concept.
  3. The power of the-sovereign-is legally unlimited, there is no legal limit to his power or authority.
  4. The obedience rendered to the sovereign is habitual and not casual. Austin’s thesis is that obedience to the sovereign must continuous, regular, undisputed and uninterrupted. But this obedience need not be from every member of the society. It is enough if obedience comes from the bulk or
    majority of the population.
  5. The power of the sovereign is indivisible. There must be as many states as there are sovereigns. The power of the sovereign cannot be divided or shared. Division of the sovereignty is unthinkable.
  6. The command of the sovereign is the law. Whatever is not commanded by the sovereign, cannot be considered, as law. Obedience to be command of the sovereign is obligatory. Disobedience will invite penalty.

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