By Arul Louis
India's Aniruddha Rajput has been elected by the UN General Assembly to the International Law Commission (ILC).
Rajput received 160 votes on Thursday, outpolling the other nine Asian candidates vying for the seven ILC seats for the region. Among them, Japan's candidate got 148 votes and China's 146.
A total of 34 candidates were elected to five-year terms on the Geneva-based body that works on developing and codifying international law.
In his early 30s, Rajput will be the youngest member of the Commission. He completed his PhD in law from the National University of Singapore only last year.
Rajput, who practices before the Indian Supreme court, was the lawyer for the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre's controversial suit filed last year challenging Article 35A of the Constitution that allows state governments to give special rights and privileges to its permanent residents that are not available to other citizens.
The controversial suit focuses on that article's application in Kashmir where, according to Rajput, the state Assembly passed laws that were drafted narrowly to exclude certain communities.
The chairman of the ILC, Narinder Singh of India, will complete his term by the end of this year. He was first elected in 2006 and then re-elected in 2011.
Singh, who is also the incumbent Secretary General of the Indian Society of International Law, is a former External Affairs Ministry legal adviser and head of its Legal and Treaties Division.
Rajput's candidature is a departure from the tradition of India nominating the heads of the Legal and Treaties Division.
His basic law degree is from the ILS Law College in Pune and he did his LLM at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
According to his biodata circulated by the UN, Rajput has advised on potential claims in US courts under Alien Tort Claims Act and British courts under universal jurisdiction for violations of rights of certain communities.
He drafted the Sports Bill, 2012, at the second revision stage and has advised the state governments of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir on laws relating to industry and mining.
He is also a member of the Governing Council of the Global Village Foundation.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com)