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Report No. 177

India ratified the 1966 Covenant on April 10, 1979.

A question may azsris.- what is the effect of the international covenants or agreements signed and ratified by India. Are they enforceable in Indian courts? Can the citizens of this country seek to found any rights on the provisions of, say, the ICCPR, 1966 and have them enforced through courts? The position in this behalf is this: Treaties, agreements and covenants signed and ratified by the Government of India do not automatically become a part of our domestic law.

Unless and until the Parliament or the State Legislature undertakes legislation in terms of such agreements or covenants, no one can rely upon the provisions of the agreement/covenant to claim or found any rights thereon. But so far as human rights are concerned, the courts have been adopting a more progressive line and have declared that insofar as the rights declared in such international instruments are consistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part Three of the Constitution, they can be read as facets of and to elucidate the content of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution vide PUCL v. UOI (1997 SC 1203) and Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan (1997 (6) SCC 241). In the first mentioned case, it is held:

"For the present, it would suffice to state that the provisions of the covenant, which elucidate and go to effectuate the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution, can certainly be relied upon by Courts as facets of those fundamental rights and hence, enforceable as such". To the same effect is the holding in the second case, where it is held:

"Any international convention not inconsistent with the Fundamental Rights and in harmony with its spirit must be read into these provisions to enlarge the meaning and content thereof, to promote the object of the constitutional guarantee".

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