Images from the Past: Nagendra Singh

[Every now and then, here at ILCurry, I will try and post about leading (South Asian, Indian, or any other I find some interesting information about) international law scholars/jurists/lawyers from the past. I hope to supplement the posts with images and videos that I come across.]

As I have mentioned previously, Nagendra Singh (1914-1988) was an Indian jurist who was a judge of the ICJ from 1973 to 1988, its vice president from 1976 to 1979, and its president from 1985 to 1988, till his death.

As the Wikipedia entry on him reveals, officially titled Maharaja Nagendra Singh, he was a member of the royal family of Dungarpur in Rajasthan and a career bureaucrat who, as an Indian Civil Service officer, served as secretary to the president, and in several other union ministries. Nagendra Singh was a member of the International Law Commission from 1967 to 1972, and was appointed a judge of the ICJ in 1973.

Some additional reading reveals that Nagendra Singh and Stephen Schwebel (a leading international jurist and a former president and judge of the ICJ, as well) were one of the first few pupils of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht at Cambridge. (See article on Hersch Lauterpacht by Stephen Schwebel here).

Here are two interesting files on Nagendra Singh:

1. From the album “Sir Elihu Lauterpacht’s Early Life” on the Cambridge site here:

Nagendra Singh receives the LL.M. at Cambridge. From L to R: Prof. Robert Jennings, Maharaja Nagendra Singh, Prof. Dennis Bailey, and Sir Elihu Lauterpacht (from the album "Sir Elihu Lauterpacht's Early Life" in the Cambridge Law online photo-gallery)

2. A Youtube video of a one hour interview with Judge Nagendra Singh at the UN in New York (originally aired on October 12 1986) where he talks about the ICJ, international law making at the UN, the nature of international legal order, what the ICJ can learn from the Supreme Court of India, and more (“… law of the sea was a very naughty problem” : ) ):

Hat tip to Aditya Singh for the video. 


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 🙂 ).