The article 'Impact of International Covenant on Part III of the Constitution' highlights the alignment of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III with the principles outlined in the ICCPR.

The article 'Impact of International Covenant on Part III of the Constitution' by Anant highlights the alignment of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III with the principles outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, underscoring India's commitment to international human rights standards.

International conventions are an important part of international law. They can be understood as treaties signed between or by two or multiple countries. It acts as an international agreement and regards itself with the well-being of nations in various spheres. Apart from welfare international conventions are also about diplomatic relationships the countries might share on an international level.

International conventions are binding agreements and aim to bring uniformity in international law. They govern various aspects of global importance. Indian Constitution stands to be one of the longest constitutions of the world, yet there are places where our constitution needs external help to fill in the gaps with changing times. Here the international conventions are the greatest ally, these conventions set out a path to follow and allow insight into newly founded problems.


Article 73 of Indian Constitution provides the executive the power to enter into any treaties and conventions which benefit the nation. This action is not arbitrary. The signed treaties can only be functional once the parliament ratifies them. Supreme Court acknowledges that international law does influence domestic law in India except when there is inconsistency with the already existing provisions of the Constitution.

The judiciary cannot legislate law but can actively take the help of international conventions to fill gaps in existing law. International conventions aid the judiciary in the interpretation of existing laws to the extent when the judiciary meets a roadblock. There are scenarios where international conventions act as a guiding book to frame laws when an immediate need of action persists yet there is no law to solve such scenarios.

One such example is the “Vishaka Guidelines” where the Supreme Court introduced some interim guidelines to provide effective redressal. The court addressed that these interim guidelines were necessary for filling the legislative vacuum., Till the legislature comes up with comprehensive legislation to deal with the same. One major contention involved in the case was there was no particular definition of sexual harassment in the domestic laws. Such grave offence was not yet addressed. The Supreme Court took the help of the international conventions to obtain a clear and unambiguous interpretation of gender equality, gender justice and gender-based sexual harassment.

The conventions were read in a larger ambit to make them consistent with the Constitution scheme of India. The guidelines were in consonance with the 'Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women' under this convention every signatory has to take steps in order to eradicate discrimination against women. The interpretation of these conventions helps aid the guarantee of gender equality and the right to work with human dignity given in Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. India is a growing economic power and plays a vital role in international treaties. While India should be enthusiastic enough to participate in conventions which bring in dynamic progressive changes in society, it should also be watchful of what it chooses for itself. The international conventions have a strong impact on part three of our constitution which is the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. This paper shall elaborately discuss the same.

Fundamental Rights: Origin

Since 1215, the English people have obtained a guarantee from King John in exchange for his respect for the then-existing freedoms. The written record known as the Magna Carta serves as proof of their accomplishment. The fundamental rights of people are addressed for the first time in writing in this constitution. the Bill of Rights was enacted in 1689 a document was created enumerating all significant liberties and rights of the English people. The French Revolution's Declaration of 1789 stated:

“the purpose of all the preservation of a person's natural and unalienable rights is political association”.

In India, the articulation of the fundamental rights in the Constitution was mostly unavoidable due to a few strong reasons.

First off, Congress, the major political party, has long fought for these rights against British control. Human rights were infringed by the laws on a regular basis during the British administration in India. As a result, the Constitution's authors, many of whom had spent time in prison under the British administration, had a highly positive view of these rights.

Second, because Indian society is divided into several religious, cultural, and linguistic groups, the declaration of fundamental rights was important to offer the populace a sense of security and confidence.

Classification of Fundamental Rights in Indian Constitution

  • Right to Equality (Articles 14-18)
  • Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22)
  • Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24)
  • Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28)
  • Cultural and Education Rights (Articles 29-30)
  • Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32-35)

Features of Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights are different from ordinary legal rights. Fundamental rights are the essence of our constitution. They emanate the basic notion of liberty and dignity. Fundamental rights are subjected to the ‘doctrine of basic structure’ they are undeniable and every Indian citizen has the right to reinforce his rights. Fundamental rights play a check on the government and ensure the development of citizens.

Fundamental right is justiciable in nature, an individual can approach the Supreme Court or High Court to seek protection if these rights are violated. They are exclusive to citizens of India and are justiciable against the state as well as individuals who infringe on the rights of others. Through the principle of constitutionalism, the constitution allows a system of checks and balances to ensure that the government does not misuse its powers and also allows the government to put some checks and balances on the rights of citizens.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Part III of the Constitution

On January 24, 1947, the Constituent Assembly voted to establish an advisory committee on Fundamental Rights, chaired by Sardar Patel. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, B.N. Rau, K.T. Shah, Harman Singh, K.M. Musnshi, and the Congress expert group drafted the list of rights. Although few revisions were suggested, there was essentially no dispute on the included concepts. The rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were nearly entirely incorporated into the Indian Constitution, either as Fundamental Rights or as Directive Principles of State Policy. The Motilal Nehru Committee Report, 1928, comprised nineteen essential rights, eleven of which are listed as Fundamental Rights and three as Fundamental Duties.

Constitutional safeguards for our people's human rights were a constant demand of our leaders throughout the liberation war. When the Constituent Assembly finished crafting the Fundamental Rights Chapter in 1949, it had before it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, herein referred to as (UDHR) is a golden document in the history of human rights.

The declaration was proclaimed by UNGA in Paris on 10th December 1948. It aimed to set a common standard to achieve for all peoples and nations. It was a mark to define that fundamental rights are universal and every human on this earth has these rights unquestioned to any power. UDHR is universally effective and recognized by member states, it has been translated into 500 languages. UDHR became the foundation for 70-plus treaties signed by different countries enforcing fundamental rights and impacting many countries UDHR is binding on India since it is a signatory to the said declaration.

The following mentioned Articles resonate with Articles present in the Indian constitution :

1. Articles (1,6,3,4,5) of UDHR

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Embedded in Article 14 (right to equality), Article 17 abolition of untouchability} and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Indian constitution. The UDHR consist of 30 articles and the essence of each article has been embedded in the Indian constitution by our forefathers. UDHR came in the year 1948 and the Indian constitution came into force in 1950.

The Constitution was under making when UDHR was adopted. the UDHR greatly influenced part III of our constitution, it provided a guideline to defend and aid the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. The fundamental rights and directive principle of state policy chapters 3 and 4 of the constitution capture the whole essence of UDHR. The embodiment has allowed the Indian citizens to live with honour and dignity. The convention tried to reaffirm the damage done during the world wars and provide humans with a space to develop.

It has also ordained them with duties which come along with rights. These conventions and their faithful implementation show the development of a country.

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978), the Supreme Court held that UDHR was adopted in 1948, while the debates were going on in the constitution framing committee of India. It was assumed that the framers were influenced by the convention while drafting part III of the Constitution. The court found it legitimate to refer to similar provisions of UDHR which for intent and scope relevant to part III.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, herein referred to as ICCPR, was made in pursuance of UDHR, adopted in 1966. It aimed to bring in a legal power to enforce human rights. The countries who ratified this convention were legally bound to follow it. The countries are obligated to protect and preserve basic human rights and compel them to take administrative, judicial and legislative measures in order to protect rights. India is a signatory to this convention and many of its clauses are duly preserved and followed by part III of our constitution.

ICCPR provides rights such as the right to life and human dignity, equality before the law, freedom of speech, assembly and association, right to freedom, privacy and rights against any discriminatory behaviour.

The National Human Rights Commission in India was established after complying with ICCPR. NHRC has wide-ranging powers and functions to secure the human rights of Indian citizens. It also provides pro–bono services through legal aid, sanitation aid and other help in relation to subsistence and livelihood.

ICCPR consist of 53 Articles which are divided into six broad heading, for example, the right to determine one’s own political interest, trying to pursue one’s own economic interest and cultural goals. ICCPR provides a more in-depth ambit of fundamental rights it extends its scope by providing the right to form legislation and pursue conventions which bring welfare to the citizens.

The convention also addresses physical integrity, and preventive detention and states that no individual shall be detained without any reasonable grounds. Unlike UDHR, ICCPR provides a machinery which would further ensure the fundamental rights of individuals. National Human Rights Council India is one such example.

International Continent on economic, social and cultural rights here is referred to as ICESCR. ICESCR Was adopted in December 1966 by the United Nations General Assembly. The convention is a multilateral Treaty. The convention has its roots in UDHR and ICCPR. As the name suggests this convention focuses more on the social and cultural rights of an individual. This includes the right to food, health education, shelter, and Livelihood. The convention tries to bring in all the points made in the above-mentioned conventions.

The above-mentioned conventions work in the basic human rights, while ICESCR focuses on providing the means which would allow the above conventions to function. That is this convention focuses on the economic well-being and social well-being of individuals which would allow them to live in a developed country. developed nation means individuals have their fundamental rights guaranteed. The right suggestions in this convention are now being embedded in the present times' WorkSpaces.

For example, Article 7 (b) and Article 10(b) of the Convention say that there shall be humane conditions of work in maternity leave to be provided to pregnant ladies. We see a fast-evolving culture of maternity leave Being provided to women in most of the workspaces. This change might be slow yet it is evident. We need to deduce that this convention works on improving the change the other two conventions have brought.

Role of International Covenant on Our Fundamental Rights

Since the implementation of the Constitution, India's jurisprudence on basic rights has advanced significantly. Article 21 of the constitution which mentions the Right to life and personal liberty has been extended to a variety of rights, including the right to the environment, and the right to privacy, as determined in the case of “KS Puttuswamy and Anr. v Union of India (2017)”, and the right to love people of the same sex, as decided recently in the case of “Navtej Singh v Union of India”.

In the case of Navtej Singh v. Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court used many international accords when examining the basic rights of the LGBT community.

The court reviewed India's adherence to the protection of human rights provided by international law as well as India's constitutional duty to respect these obligations. It's important to note that the agreements the Supreme Court cited in support of LGBT rights have portions that are solely concerned with safeguarding human rights in war areas. All signatory states are required to offer remedies for rights infringement, even if it is committed by people acting in official capacities, according to Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Supreme Court cited in declaring Section 377 unconstitutional. No one "should be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or expulsion," states the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Judiciary Interpretation of International Conventions

It is through judicial interpretation of the international conventions that these conventions are able to aid the fundamental rights already existing in the country. Indian courts are of the view that the conventions ratified by the Parliament should be implemented in good faith. With the condition that it shall not contradict the already existing principles of the Constitution. Yet the importance of international conventions in the judiciary cannot be undermined. International conventions Are considered as a guiding senior. Because these conventions are made after due delegation and debate Indian Judiciary turns towards international convention Main aims to fill in the gap of existing law or when it requires a fresh point of view and an already existing problem. Following are a few case laws explaining the same :

In Neelbati Behera v. State of Orissa (1993), the Supreme Court provided compensation play the victim of custodial death. The Supreme Court also relied on Article 9 subclause 5 of ICCPR 1966 which indicated that the right to compensation was not alien to the enforcement of a right which is already guaranteed. Article 9 (5) States: that anyone who has been a victim of unlawful detention Has a right for compensation.

In SP Mittal v. Union of India (1983), the court referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to understand the basis of fundamental rights. The court precisely laid Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution and held that there was no fanciful right under this article. Elementary and basic rights were given under Articles 14 and 19 influenced by UDHR.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Jeeja Ghosh v. Union of India (2016), should be applauded for upholding the rights of people with disabilities to live with dignity. This case emerged from a public interest lawsuit filed when Spice Jet forcefully deboarded Jeeja Ghosh due to her handicap. The court ruled that the airline's actions were illegal and ordered it to compensate the petitioner Rs. 10 lakhs.

In reaching its determination, the court cited international law to emphasise the rights of people with impairments. Paragraph 13 of the ruling, for example, states that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1963 compels India's internal law to conform with international obligations. According to Article 27, a State party... may not claim the rules of its domestic law as grounds for failing to fulfil a treaty.


We need to acknowledge the fact that fundamental rights are dynamic in nature. There will be always space for new fundamental rights to evolve with the rapid development we’re seeing around us. The right to privacy is one such example. Each convention would bring in its contribution to the fundamental rights of citizens. For example, in the 20th century, there was no concept of maternity leave, equal pay or prevention of exploitation. But with evolving time these rights were recognised and they were understood to be fundamentals of human existence.

Therefore, international conventions play a very important in five equal role in impacting the fundamental rights of any country. Conventions are the guiding principles which give us more in-depth rights to already existing rights. Conventions ratified in good faith shall duly be implemented by the countries for the well-being of the citizens.


[1] Constitution of India, Available Here

[2] Vishaka & Ors v. State Of Rajasthan & Ors, AIR 1997 SC 3011

[3] Rajib Hassan, The Origin and Concept of Fundamental Rights in the Constitutions of US, UK and India: A Comparative Analysis, Available Here

[4] Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties, Available Here

[5] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Available Here

[6] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597

[7] Protesting is a Fundamental Right: UN, Available Here

[8] KS Puttuswamy and Anr. v Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1

[9] Navtej Singh v Union of India, AIR 2018 SC 4321

[10] Killing One Colonial Law at a Time – After Section 377, It's Time to Repeal AFSPA, Available Here

[11] Neelbati Behera Vs State of Orissa, AIR 1993, SC 1960

[12] SP Mittal v. Union of India, 1983 AIR, 1 1983 SCR (1) 729

[13] Jeeja Ghosh v. Union of India, (2016) 7 SCC 761

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Anant Gupta

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