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The status of international law in India

 The status of international law in India

International law is a universal law knowned by different names such as inter state law or law of nations  and public international law it has also been defined in form of traditional and modern languages according to the traditional Language international can be said to be a set of rules and regulations that regulates relations between countries.

While according to the modern definition law is a set of laws and rules and regulations that regulate the relations amongst different countries and the relations amongst various distinct international organizations, individual non-state entities, and companies. Under local law or national law there exist the three tier system i.e.  legislature , executive, and judiciary while in case of international law There’s no three tier system according to hall and Lawrence international law is one true law they also believe that international law has been derived from customs and precedents which are said to be the source of international law.

Indian stance on international law 

India is a party to many conventions and treaties related to international law in the domain of human rights laws, environmental law, trade laws, space laws, intellectual property laws and many more. We can comprehend the enforcement of international law in India using two different perspectives i.e., international law related to treaties and conventions and international law about international customs.

The reason why we have to study the enforcement of international laws in India using two different perspectives is that we follow a dualist theory. India follows a dualist theory of international law, which means that treaties and conventions cannot be invoked unless they are incorporated in the nation’s domestic laws in the first place.

Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969, made it clear under the principle of pacta sunt servanda, that the state is under duty to honor its international obligation even if it means amending its domestic law. In case a dispute arises between domestic law and international law, it is the duty of the court to reconcile the two and to see how far the state’s constitution allows implementation of international law.

Article 253 of the Indian Constitution enables the Parliament of India to make laws pertaining to international laws in India. Such laws shall be ratified by the President in order to come into force. The power to implement such laws and treaties and conventions with respect to international law lies with the Parliament. It should be noted that this power is to be exercised by the Parliament only and the States do not have a say in it.

Case laws 

Keshavanad Bharti v. State of Kerala

Honorable Chief Justice Sikri in this case said that in situation where the language of municipal law is not clear or contrary then the support of international law must be taken. Article 253 gives power to the parliament of our country to make laws for giving effect to international treaties and conventions.

Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan

In this case of sexual harassment of women at workplace, the court used international law to find the meaning of domestic law and also held that international laws which consistent to it should be taken in to consideration for enlarging the meaning and content of the domestic law.


India is a party to several conventions and treaties which are the branches of international laws. As already discussed, these laws, treaties and conventions are pertaining to human rights laws, space laws, environment laws, intellectual property laws etc. India follows the dualist theory which treats domestic laws and international laws separately.


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