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Bhandari re-elected to ICJ by huge margin

Ashok Tuteja | New Delhi |

In a huge diplomatic win for India, Justice Dalveer Bhandari has been re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the 2018-2027 term as the UN General Assembly solidly backed the Indian candidate in an unprecedented show of strength that forced the United Kingdom, a permanent member of the Security Council, to withdraw its nominee Christopher Greenwood.

Thus, for the first time in its history, the ICJ will not have a judge from the UK on its bench while 70-year-old Bhandari will be there when the Hague-based court takes up and delivers the final judgment in the case of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan on charges of espionage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself spared no effort to garner support for the Indian candidate, complimented External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her team of officials in the External Affairs Ministry and Indian missions abroad for their untiring efforts that led to Bhandari’s victory. Modi also expressed his gratitude to members of the General Assembly and the Security Council for their support and trust in India. “‘Vande Matram-India wins election to the International Court of Justice. JaiHind,” Swaraj tweeted soon after Bhandari’s re-election was announced at the UN.

“The extraordinary support from the UN membership is reflective of the respect for strong constitutional integrity of the Indian polity and the independence of the judiciary in India,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. The withdrawal of its candidate by the UK, which had the backing of fellow permanent members, is being considered a setback for the Security Council that had been locked in a bitter face-off with the General Assembly.

According to India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, who is being credited with playing the most critical role in securing massive support of the General Assembly for the Indian candidate, said Justice Bhandari’s re-election was a ‘victory for emerging India” and an acknowledgement that the world needed to make space for an asserting India.

Justice Bhandari received 183 out of the 193 votes in the General Assembly and 15 votes in the Security Council in the separate and simultaneous elections held at the UN headquarter. Sources here disclosed that there was a crucial meet before the vote on Monday at which India put forward its view and stuck to it. Sensing that an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly was in favour of the Indian candidate, the UK judge recused himself.