According to a recent news report in The Hindu (here), India is looking to nominate a jurist for election to the ICJ to fill an Asian vacancy that will arise in February 2012 following the retirement of Judge Owada of Japan. The report notes that elections are expected to be held at the UN in September or October 2011.
India has thus far had three permanent judges at the ICJ: Sir Benegal Rau (1952-1953), Nagendra Singh (1973-1988 – Judge; 1976-1979 – Vice President; 1985-1988 – President), and Raghunandan Swarup Pathak (1989-1991). R. S. Pathak, the last Indian to be a permanent judge at the ICJ, was appointed to fill the vacancy arising from the demise of Nagendra Singh, and failed to get re-elected at the end of his term. On this, the report notes:
In 1991, India decided not to renominate Justice Pathak, who nevertheless entered the fray with the backing of Ireland. When the Irish government came under attack in the Dail from MPs who blamed the judge for approving, as CJI [Chief Justice of India], the “unjust” $470-million Bhopal gas disaster settlement with Union Carbide, Justice Pathak withdrew from the race. The Asian ‘slot’ was then filled by C.G. Weeramantry from Sri Lanka.
Apart from these permanent judges, several Indians have been appointed as ad hoc judges in specific disputes: M. C. Chagla (Portugal v. India), P. S. Rao (Malaysia/Singapore), and B. P. Jeevan Reddy (Pakistan v. India).
The Report goes on to outline the procedure that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is likely to follow in nominating a candidate:
On receipt of a request from the National Group for seeking nominees, the Ministry of External Affairs will prepare for the elections. As a first step, the government is likely to identify a person it wishes to get elected. The National Group of India as well as National Groups of other friendly countries should also accept the preferred candidate of India as one of their nominees. There is no age restriction.
So, who is it going to be? A retired Supreme Court judge? P. S. Rao (he is also currently an arbitrator in a dispute between India and Bangladesh at the PCA)? An academician? A lawyer? Tips, speculation, and discussion are most welcome (remember, if it’s a scoop, you can always comment anonymously 🙂 ).