The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed as withdrawn a writ petition filed by a law student challenging the nomination of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the ground that it would “severely” compromise the independence of the judiciary.
A three-member bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice J. Chelameshwar and Justice Ranjan Gogoi was not inclined to consider any of the petitioner's demands or arguments, and finally granted him permission to withdraw the petition.
The Bench also questioned whether it could even be considered a public interest litigation petition. “What is the interest of the public? He [petitioner] is not a contender, so what is the public interest involved here?” asked Justice Altamas Kabir.
Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati said it was very unseemly that the petitioner's chose to file the petition one day before the elections. “This has been in the public domain since December 5, 2011…this cannot be done…not in this way,” he said.
The petitioner was represented by lawyer Prashant Bhusan, who said that the entire process for elections required the government to lobby on behalf of Mr. Justice Bhandari.
“The government is a major litigant in the Supreme Court, if a sitting judge is nominated for the post of judge in the ICJ by the government, which will lobby for his election …it will place him [Justice Bhandari] in a position that will severely compromise the independence of the judiciary,” he said, likening the elections of the ICJ to the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha elections.
“Suppose a sitting judge is to nominate himself to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. It would involve the unseemly spectacle of a political party campaigning on his behalf,” he said.
However, his arguments did not convince the three-member Bench, which did not buy the petitioner's reasoning and said that there was no connection either between the elections to the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha nor in the precedents quoted by the petitioner.