External Affairs

Young Lawyer With RSS Links Elected to International Law Commission

Aniruddha Rajput, seated behind Syed Akbaruddin, has been elected to the International Law Organisation. Credit: Twitter

Aniruddha Rajput, seated diagonally behind Syed Akbaruddin, has been elected to the International Law Organisation. Credit: Twitter

A young Indian lawyer has won a hotly-contested election in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for membership to its top body of legal experts, garnering the highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group.

Aniruddha Rajput, 33, is among 34 individuals elected by the UNGA as members of the International Law Commission (ILC), the UN organ tasked with the progressive development of international law and its codification.

The newly elected members will serve five-year terms of office with the Geneva-based body beginning January 2017.

The 34 members have been elected from five geographical groupings – African, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European states.

Rajput received 160 votes, topping the Asia Pacific group, in voting that was held by way of secret ballot yesterday. Japan’s Shinya Murase got the second highest number of votes in the Asia-Pacific group at 148, followed by Mahmoud Daifallah Hmoud of Jordan and Huikang Huang of China with 146 votes each, Korea’s Ki Gab Park with 136 votes, Ali bin Fetais Al-Marri of Qatar with 128 votes and Hong Thao Nguyen of Viet Nam with 120 votes.

Amongst the youngest to be elected to the nearly 70-year old body, Rajput is India’s first time candidate to the ILC, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.

The Wire had previously reported on Rajput’s nomination – and his links to the RSS – noting that for the first time in four decades, India had by-passed the external affairs ministry’s in-house legal talent to nominate a private law practitioner – he is a practicing Supreme Court lawyer.

In July 2015, media reports described him as the counsel for the petitioner of the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre, an RSS-related think-tank, which had challenged Article 35A giving special status to J&K permanent residents – seen by the Sangh parivar as the plank on which the state’s special status under Article 370 ultimately rests. An archived snapshot of August 1, 2015 from the webpage describes Rajput as a director of the JKSC.

According to his profile submitted to the UN, Rajput is an alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was member of an expert group appointed by the Law Commission of India to study and comment upon the Model Bilateral Investment Treaty 2015 of India.

Questions remain about how Rajput secured India’s nomination to the ILC, with the foreign ministry unwilling to disclose how it made its choice. Rajput was still a Ph.D. student in May with no significant experience in public international law when he was formally introduced as India’s candidate.

With PTI inputs.