Meet Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari, who voted against Israel’s Rafah offensive at ICJ

Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari was among other judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) who voted in favour of halting Israel's offensive in Rafah.

Akriti Anand
Updated28 May 2024
Israel Rafah offensive: Justice Dalveer Bhandari was declared elected for a fresh term at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after Britain withdrew its candidate Christopher Greenwood in 2017.
Israel Rafah offensive: Justice Dalveer Bhandari was declared elected for a fresh term at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after Britain withdrew its candidate Christopher Greenwood in 2017.

Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari was among 13 judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) who voted in favour of halting Israel's offensive in the war-torn Gazan city of Rafah. The ICJ delivered the verdict on South Africa vs Israel on Friday, May 24.

The Friday order read: "The State of Israel shall...Immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part".

The ICJ ruling against Israel on Friday brought the focus on Judge Dalveer Bhandari in India. So who is Dalveer Bhandari, the Indian Judge who voted in favor of the ruling against Israel.

A former Supreme Court judge, Justice Bhandari has been a member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 2012. He was re-elected to the ICJ in 2017, the day which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as a "proud moment".

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Bhandari was re-elected when the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council convened independently in New York on November 20, 2017, to fill the fifth vacancy for the 2018-2027 term.

Bhandari had then received all the 15 votes in the UN Security Council and 183 out of the 193 votes in the UN General Assembly. This happened as the UK decided to withdraw its candidate after a closely fought electoral process.

"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 had said in a press release.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari opposed Israel and Russia

This was not the fist time that Justice Dalveer Bhandari voted in support of the ruling that called for a halt on Israel's operation in Rafah. In January this year, he voted in favour of issuing provisional measures against Israel to prevent genocide against Palestinian people living in the Gaza strip.

In 2022, he voted in favour of the provisional measures that ordered Russia to suspend its military operations in Ukraine. Like the judgement on the Israel-Palestine conflict on Friday, the 2022 judgement directing Russia to immediately halt its military operations in Ukraine was passed with 13-2 votes. Even then, ICJ Justice Dalveer Bhandari had joined the majority.

Former Supreme Court judge and other position held

Justice Dalveer Bhandari was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on October 28, 2005. He resigned from his office as the Judge of the Supreme Court of India on April 27, 2012. He was elected to the post of Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

He was born on October 1, 1947. After graduating in Humanities and Law on an international scholarship, he did a Master of Laws from Northwestern University, Chicago, USA, his profile on the Supreme Court's website read.

He also worked with the Northwestern Legal Assistance Clinic and appeared in Chicago Courts on behalf of the litigants of the said Clinic. He further worked on an International Project Delay in the Administration of Criminal Justice in India sponsored by the United Nations.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari was also a Member of a High Level Delegation which visited many places of the then USSR to study and comprehend Soviet Legal and Judicial System and its relevance for India.

He practised in the Rajasthan High Court in Civil, Criminal and Constitutional branches of law from 1973 to 1976. He is also a part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Jodhpur University.

He shifted to Delhi from Jodhpur in 1977 and practised law in the Supreme Court till his elevation to the Delhi High Court in March 1991. He was later appointed as the Chief Justice of Maharashtra and Goa on July 25, 2004.

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