Indian Journal of International Law

, Volume 57, Issue 1–2, pp 25–45 | Cite as

India and international law: formal dualism, functional monism

  • Aparna Chandra


India has traditionally been described as a dualist country in relation to its engagement with international law. Formally at least, the allocation of the power of assumption of international obligations rests with the Executive, while its domestic implementation requires Parliamentary sanction. In this paper, I argue that while India remains formally committed to dualism, in practice it exhibits many monist tendencies. Once international law obligations are assumed, they are transported into domestic law through various channels, not all of which require Parliamentary approval. Further, the Indian judiciary also applies non-domesticated international law obligations in various ways that reflect shades of monism. I argue that this departure from dualism is problematic since it removes much needed Parliamentary scrutiny, and results in a lack of executive accountability, erosion of federalism, the loss of value of legal pluralism, and the amplification of international law’s democratic deficits.


Monism Dualism Domestic implementation of international law Treaty making power Judicial incorporation of international law 

Copyright information

© The Indian Society of International Law 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and GovernanceNational Law University, DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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