No, Dalveer Bhandari Has Not Been Elected As 'Chief Justice' Of ICJ

Though Bhandari has been a judge on the ICJ since 2012, he has not been elected as its 'chief justice', as such a position does not exist.

A claim on social media, stating that Judge Dalveer Bhandari on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has become its 'chief justice' is false. Bhandari is a judge on the Court, which has no 'chief justice', but rather a president and a vice-president.

The claim further suggests, albeit falsely, that by becoming its 'chief justice', Bhandari has broken a British stranglehold on a position held by them for the past 71 years.

Data available with the ICJ that the presidents of the Court have come from a variety of countries, including India. However, of the 26 presidents that have served on the Court, 4 have hailed from the United Kingdom, the most from any one country.

Other than Bhandari, three Indians have served on the ICJ, with one Indian -- Nagendra Singh -- also serving as its president from 1985 to 1988, when he died in office on December 11 that year.

The current president of the Court is Judge Joan E. Donoghue, who hails from the United States of America.

The claim can be seen below.

"Justice Dalveer Bhandari elected Chief Justice for International court of Justice for next 9 years. He secured 183 votes out of 193. Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years.

Proud moment for India."

There are also Hindi versions of this claim.

"न्यायमूर्ती दलवीर भंडारी जैन 9 साल के लिये आंतरराष्ट्रीय न्यायालय के लिये मुख्य न्यायाधीश के तौर पर चुने गये उन को 193 वोटो मे से 183 वोट मिले और उनका चयन हुवा.. ग्रेट ब्रिटन का 71साल ईस पद विराजमान था भारत के लिये और सभी जैन समाज के लिये गौरव का क्षण है."

BOOM received this as a message on its WhatsApp tipline (+917700606588).

These claims can be seen on social media.

Also Read: Is India Presiding Over The UNSC For The First Time Ever? A FactCheck


1. What is the ICJ?

The ICJ is one of the six principle organs of the United Nations, authorised to settle legal disputes between states and act in an advisory capacity to the UN and its other organs.

It consists of 15 judges, each elected for nine-year terms. The election of the judges takes place simultaneously but independently in the United Nations General Assembly -- the UN's policymaking organ -- and the Security Council -- the UN's most powerful organ able authorise military and economic actions to maintain world peace.

2. Is Bhandari a 'chief justice' on the ICJ?

No. Bhandari is one of the 15 judges on the ICJ, but he is not the 'chief justice', as a such a position does not exist.

The head of the Court is the President of the Court (and a Vice-President of the Court), elected for three-year terms, according to Article 21 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (available here).

Bhandari has been a judge on the ICJ since 2012, but was re-elected from a fresh 9-year term in 2017 (assuming his new term from 2018 through 2027). He has been a judge on India's Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, and a judge with the Delhi High Court. His profile with the ICJ can be found here.

Three other Indians have been judges on the ICJ - Sir Benegal Rau from 1952 - 1953, Negendra Singh from 1973 to 1988 and Raghunandan Swarup Pathak from 1989 to 1991.

3. Have only British held the position as head of the ICJ?

No. Judges from several nationalities have held the position as president of the Court, including Nagendra Singh from India from 1985 - 1988. The maximum number of presidents through have been British (four of 26 presidents), followed by the US and France (three each).

Find the list below.

4. Did Bhandari win 183 of 193 votes in his election?

Yes. Bhandari was elected to the ICJ with 183 votes of 193 member nations in the United Nations General Assembly when he was re-elected to a new nine-year term on November 20, 2017.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs supported Bhandari's candidature, and resorted to diplomacy to get Bhandari elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

"The UN Security Council and the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of India. Judge Dalveer Bhandari received all 15 votes in the UN Security Council and 183 out of the 193 votes in the UN General Assembly", said the Ministry.

All information regarding Bhandari's election in 2017 can be found with the Ministry of External Affairs here.

Also Read: BV Nagarathana Set To Be India's First Woman Chief Justice In 2027

Updated On: 2021-08-28T14:29:59+05:30
Claim :   Dalveer Bhandari has become the Chief Justice of the ICJ, ending a British 71 year hold over the position
Claimed By :  Users of social media
Fact Check :  False
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