India Lobbies for Justice Bhandari’s Election to the ICJ

With the election date of 27 April 2012 fast approaching, India has stepped up its efforts seeking support for the election of current Supreme Court Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the ICJ. As noted previously, the two nominees seeking election to the vacancy created by Judge Al-Khasawneh’s departure from the ICJ are India’s Justice Bhandari and Florentino Feliciano from the Philippines.

At home, earlier this month, India’s External Affairs Minister held a meeting with the relevant ambassadors and diplomats in Delhi to to make India’s “case for Justice Bhandari and to ask them to support India.”

Effort’s to garner support for Justice Bhandari are also underway in New York. A recent report notes that “on the possibility of Justice Bhandari’s victory, official sources said India has been lobbying hard for the support” and that India “appears confident of his victory”.

Indian Judge at the ICJ: Some Developments

I had noted earlier that India had nominated Justice Dalveer Bhandari for election to the ICJ. It now appears that the Philippines has nominated Justice Florentino Feliciano for election to the same vacancy. Justice Feliciano has served on the WTO Appellate Body. He was also an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He completed his LL.M. and JSD from Yale Law School. The official note on his nomination can be found here. The elections are scheduled for 27 April 2012.

On the topic of Justice Bhandari’s nomination, while browsing the Internet I recently came across this RTI request by Subhash Chandra Agrawal and the response by the MEA, Govt. of India. The RTI request seeks information about the nomination process as it is carried out in India. The response is basic and minimally revealing, repeating only the information available on the ICJ and PCA websites.

Update (25 March 2012): The Hindu has picked up on the story now, as well.

Indian Judge at the ICJ?

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 🙂 ).