The outcome of India’s effort to secure a second term for Dalveer Bhandari at the International Court of Justice could have a significant impact on the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court.
Bhandari, who was elected to his current seat in 2012, appeared to be better placed than his British rival on Monday but the complicated election process involving the UN General Assembly and Security Council remains deadlocked.
If for some reason, India fails in its efforts to secure Bhandari’s re-election, it will have to go through the process of nominating an “ad hoc judge” to the 12-member ICJ tribunal that is hearing the case of Jadhav, whose death sentence was put on hold by The Hague-based court.
Article 31 of the ICJ’s statute states that if the panel includes “a judge of the nationality of one of the parties, (the other) party may choose a person to sit as judge”. An ad hoc judge can also be chosen if the panel includes “no judge of the nationality of the parties”, according to the article.
In October, Pakistan nominated former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani as its ad hoc judge in the panel that will resume hearing Jadhav’s case in December.
Experts believe India could be at a disadvantage if Bhandari does not get re-elected as there may not be an Indian representative on the tribunal at a crucial stage when the panel begins considering the “memorials” or written submissions made by New Delhi and Islamabad on Jadhav.
India submitted its memorial in September while Pakistan has time till December 13 to make its submission.
The ICJ has asked Pakistan not to go ahead with the execution of Jadhav, accused of involvement in spying and subversive activities, till it gives its final ruling. The Pakistan Army said last month its chief is close to a decision on Jadhav’s mercy petition.
Jadhav has already been refused clemency by a Pakistani military appellate court and can approach the president if the army chief too turns down his mercy petition.
India has dismissed the charges leveled against Jadhav, saying the former naval officer was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business.