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RSTV: IN DEPTH- INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

RSTV

Key observations made by the ICJ:

  • Islamabad has violated Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963, by not informing India about Jadhav’s arrest immediately after Pakistan Army had taken him into custody.
  • India had been deprived of ‘right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation’.

 About ICJ:

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.
  • It has two primary functions:to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.

Members:

  • The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
  • In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.
  • In order to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three years. Judges are eligible for re-election.

Presidency:

  • The President and Vice-President are elected by the Members of the Court every three years by secret ballot. The election is held on the date on which Members of the Court elected at a triennial election begin their terms of office or shortly thereafter. An absolute majority is required and there are no conditions of nationality. The President and Vice-President may be re-elected.
  • The President presides at all meetings of the Court; he/she directs its work and supervises its administration, with the assistance of a Budgetary and Administrative Committee and various other committees, all composed of Members of the Court. During judicial deliberations, the President has a casting vote in the event of votes being equally tied.
  • In The Hague, where he/she is obliged to reside, the President of the Court takes precedence over the doyen of the diplomatic corps
  • The Vice-President replaces the President in his/her absence, in the event of his/her inability to perform his/her duties, or in the event of a vacancy in the presidency. He/she receives a daily allowance for doing so. In the absence of the Vice-President, this role falls to the senior judge.

How the Court Works:

·        The Court may entertain two types of cases: legal disputes between States submitted to it by them (contentious cases) and requests for advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by United Nations organs and specialized agencies (advisory proceedings).

Who nominates the candidates?

  • Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State. Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.
  • Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality. Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.

 Qualifications of ICJ judges:

  • A judge should have a high moral character.
  • A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.
  • A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.

 The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:

  • Three from Africa.
  • Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
  • Three from Asia.
  • Five from Western Europe and other states.
  • Two from Eastern Europe.

India’s relationship with ICJ:

India has remained involved in cases at ICJ on six occasions, including the present Jadhav case. Pakistan was the opposing party in the four out of six cases.

  • In 1955, Portugal claimed the right of passage through the territory of India to ensure communications between its territory of Daman and its enclave territories of Dadra and Nagar-Haveli.
  • India contended that the events that took place in Dadra on 21st & 22nd July 1954 overthrew Portuguese authority in these enclaves creating tension in the surrounding Indian Territory.
    • Verdict: The ICJ did not find fault with India and ruled that India has not acted contrary to its obligations.
  • In 1971, India said that the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had no jurisdiction on a complaint filed by Pakistan.
    • Verdict: ICJ held that ICAO is indeed competent to entertain the complaint made to it by Pakistan.
  • In 1973, Pakistan sought proceedings against India on the charges of genocide against 195 Pakistani nationals, prisoners of war or civilian internees in the Indian custody.
  • The case ended after both India and Pakistan governments held discussions and came to an agreement on the issue.
  • In 1999, Pakistan entered into a dispute on the destruction of a Pakistani aircraft by India in 1999. Pakistan said that the ICJ had jurisdiction in this issue.
    • Verdict: ICJ concluded that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by Pakistan.
  • In 2014, The Republic of the Marshall Islands instituted proceedings against all nuclear weapon states, including India, contending breach of customary law obligations on nuclear disarmament.
  • India said that the ICJ had no jurisdiction in the case.
    • Verdict: ICJ accepted that it cannot proceed to the merits of the case because of lack of jurisdiction.
  • In 2017, India filed a case on illegal detention of former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan. The case is in progress at ICJ.
    • Verdict: ICJ has directed Pakistan to review conviction order of Kulbhushan Jadhav and India should be granted consular access to the Navy officer as per Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963 and Pakistan should recon