What a terrific win it was for India! All of a sudden it was India who was grabbing all international headlines in all newspapers and news channels all over the world! It is beyond a straw of doubt that we all Indians felt on top of the world to see how India managed to shine par excellence and even left behind the UK once called Great Britain who ruled over us for centuries!
In hindsight, Justice Bhandari has always enjoyed an impeccable and unblemished reputation throughout his career as a Judge. While he was the Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court, his tenure was known for his order which led to more allocation of funds for malnourished children in the most deprived regions of Maharashtra. He is a Padma Bhushan recipient himself and hails from a family of legal personalities and has been part of the judiciary of India since the early 1970s.
To tell the truth, there are many firsts that are inextricably linked with Bhandari’s excellent performance in ICJ. This is the first time in over seven decades of the United Nations, that the UK will not be represented in the ICJ; and this is the first time that one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council lost out to an ordinary member in a race. This is what makes India’s victory more special and sweeter for which all Indians should feel proud of!
No doubt, this is also a big boost for India’s legitimate claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Some news channels must be commended for highlighting this on their prime time shows. It is also worth noting here that this is also the first time that one sitting member of the ICJ lost out to another sitting member. India thanked the UN members for supporting re-election of its Judge to the International Court of Justice, saying the election process reflected respect for its constitutional integrity and independent judiciary.
Proud moment for India
It needs no rocket scientist to conclude that Bhandari coming out with flying colours yet once again in the ICJ is a special proud moment for India as also for Bhandari himself. Commending Bhandari’s re-election, PM Narendra Modi called it a “proud moment” for India. He also tweeted, “Congratulations to EAM @Sushma Swaraj and her entire team at MEA and diplomatic missions for their untiring efforts that have led to India’s reelection to ICJ. Our deep gratitude to all the members of UNGA as well as UNSC for their support and trust in India.” It also must be noted here that the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that, “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.”
To be sure, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also tweeted, “Congratulations to Justice Dalveer Bhandari on his reelection as a Judge of the ICJ. Huge efforts by Team MEA. Syed Akbaruddin, our Permanent Representative in the UN deserves a special mention.” No doubt, Sushma Swaraj herself also left no stone unturned to solicit more and more support for Bhandari and she made more than 60 phone calls to her counterparts soliciting support. She also held talks with European countries at various levels and even though some were very stubborn but ultimately they were persuaded to support Bhandari.
Also, this move needed approval by the UN Security Council in an open voting while the voting for the ICJ is through a secret ballot. It must be revealed here that UK began to realize just before its withdrew its candidate that the UK would not have nine members to support publicly the proposal to suspend further rounds of voting. A UN insider also revealed that, “Some members who voted for Britain’s candidate, told them that they could not vote for the suspension of the voting process”.
In a dramatic turn of events, UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN Matthew Rycroft wrote to the President of the General Assembly and the Security Council shortly before voting, informing them that their nominee Greenwood has decided to withdraw from the race. The two Presidents then read out the letter in their respective chambers. The rest as is called is history now!
Needless to say, India thanked the UN members for supporting the re-election of its Judge Dalveer Bhandari to the ICJ. It would be pertinent to note that Justice Dalveer Bhandari featured in some of the interesting cases on issues of global importance such as nuclear disarmament, territorial and maritime resources, and climate change-related disputes, global terrorism and financial regulation. An official also pointed out that Judge Bhandari’s tenure in the ICJ is significant as it coincided with the changing nature of the court itself as it reaffirmed arrival of the new global players like India.
It is also an indisputable fact that Centre left no opportunity unused and made extra efforts to ensure that support for Bhandari was more forthcoming and this backchannel talk certainly worked in his favour and tipped the scales ultimately in his favour! We all must celebrate this because this is the biggest proof that India’s clout in the international arena in last few years has increased tremendously by leaps and bounds. Diplomats at UN very rightly describe this landslide victory as “a reflection of reality of 21st century”. There can be no denying it!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.