Justice Dalveer Bhandari, one of the 15 International Court of Justice (ICJ) judges at The Hague since April 2012, has called upon India to play “a much greater role” in framing international laws and conventions.
Speaking ahead of the ICJ’s 70th anniversary on April 18, Justice Bhandari, a former SC judge, said: “India is already playing a significant role in framing of international laws and conventions. It would be desirable that a much greater role be played because international law and conventions are becoming increasingly important for us, such as nuclear policy. More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny.”
He added that India needed to “cover a long distance” on bringing a consonance between international and domestic laws. “We have to cover a long distance in this respect…Unlike some constitutions like USA, Germany or France, there is no clear provision for domestic application of international treaty or customary law. The Constitution of India does not make specific emphatic references of the statute of international law,” he said.
Asked whether India could have approached the ICJ over the brutal torture and death of Captain Saurabh Kalia in 1999, Justice Bhandari said, “As a sitting judge of this Court, it would not be desirable for me to comment or give any kind of legal advice on this issue. All I will say is that the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The court has a two-fold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States against other States – its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned; and second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorised UN organs and agencies of the system. Thus, it is clear that the only grievances that can come before us here at the Court are one State against another State… One thing I would like to stress is that neighbours are not a matter of choice. They have to learn to live in peaceful coexistence in their own interest.”