By-election is scheduled for March this year

The government of India has officially nominated Justice Dalveer Bhandari, a sitting Supreme Court judge, as India's candidate for the post of Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the casual vacancy caused in Asia following the resignation of Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh from Jordan in October 2011 after his appointment as the Prime Minister of that country.

Being a casual vacancy the term is for the remainder period of six years. In September, 2011 a regular Asian vacancy (for a nine-year term) arose at the end of the term of Japanese Judge Hisashi Owada. India, however, backed Owada's renomination, and is now seeking to get its candidate elected in the March 2012 ‘by-election' for the casual vacancy.

In the past, Sir Benegal Rau (1950s), Dr. Nagendra Singh (1970-80s) and Justice R.S. Pathak (1988-90), former Chief Justice of India, had served as Judges of the ICJ. Two persons served as ad hoc Judges namely: M.C. Chagla in a dispute with Portugal in the 1950s and Jeevan Reddy in a dispute with Pakistan in 2002. The list of sitting judges or the past judges of the ICJ reveal that most of them had been law professors or diplomats.

Taking all these factors into consideration, India has now nominated Justice Bhandari as its official candidate and it remains to be seen whether he will be elected unopposed.

There will be an election if Jordan also decides to contest for the reminder of its term.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It consists of 15 Judges who serve for nine years.

At present, among the 15 Judges on the Bench of ICJ, two representatives from Asia are: Hisashi Owada from Japan, who is also the president, and Xue Hanqin from China.

Justice Bhandari (64), who has vast experience in international law and is familiar with the working of the U.N. organisations, is the preferred candidate of the Indian government. He is due to retire in September this year.

Justice Bhandari was the chairperson of the Delhi Centre of the International Law Association for several years. He was invited to deliver a keynote address in the International Conference organised by the United Nations on “Intellectual Property” at Auckland (New Zealand).

He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on October 28, 2005. He has been selected as one of the 15 most illustrious and distinguished alumni in the 150 years history of the Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, U.S. He was unanimously elected president of the India International Law Foundation.