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In the run-up to the hearing of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, India has decided to keep its faith in Judge Dalveer Bhandari, known to be somewhat of a Pakistan baiter, on the panel of judges. India had the option of fielding Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice Dipak Misra, but in the end decided to go with Bhandari.

For his election for a nine-year term—his current term ends on February 5, 2018—he has to face competition from Lebanon’s permanent representative to the UN, Nawaf Salam.

The nomination papers for this were filed in New York on Monday (June 19), as per a report in The Wire after signatures of all four members of India’s ‘national group’ at the Permanent Court of Arbitration were taken on Sunday. It is the duty of the national group (comprising members nominated to be potential arbitrators) to submit nominations to the ICJ.

The national group members are: Former Chief Justice HL Dattu, retired Supreme Court Judge Girish Thakorlal Nanavati, attorney general Mukul Rohtagi and senior lawyer Harish Salve.

Bhandari’s re-nomination has not come without a hitch. When on May 18 the ICJ stayed Jadhav’s death sentence by a Pakistani military court, Bhandari, in an interview, had called it “great diplomatic victory for India”. Pakistanis had jumped to this and asked for his recusal from the case. Justice Bhandari was a member of that bench.

Earlier, Justice BN Rao (1950s), Dr Nagendra Singh (1970-80s) and Justice RS Pathak (1988-90) had served as ICJ judges.

India’s nomination was awaited, with France, Brazil, the UK and Somalia having already filed re-nomination papers.

This will be the second Indian seeking election to a top UN body after Neeru Chadha recently won the election to one of the seven vacant seats to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

India Legal Bureau

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