The democratizing force of international law: Human rights adjudication by the Indian supreme court

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that international law has served as a useful tool for the Indian Supreme Court in fulfilling aims that have little to do with the court’s purported status as an organ of the international community. Rather, the Supreme Court has appropriated international legal norms to pursue primarily domestic goals. This chapter proceeds as follows. Section II gives an overview of the status of international law in the Indian constitutional scheme. Section III analyzes the creative uses of international law by the Indian Supreme Court to fill in and add to the content of constitutional rights and guarantees, enabling its encroachment into domains that are normally the prerogative of the legislature and the executive. Section IV puts forward a possible explanation for this appropriation of international legal norms and suggests that international law has performed a legitimizing function in the Supreme Court’s articulation of its vision of the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComparative International Law
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190697570
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • India
  • India supreme court
  • International law
  • International legal norms
  • Trans-judicial dialogue

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