Justice Bhandari was born on October 1, 1947. He comes from a family of lawyers. His father Mahaveer Chand Bhandari and his grandfather B C Bhandari were members of the Rajasthan bar. Justice Bhandari studied humanities and law from Jodhpur University and practiced law at the Rajasthan High Court between 1968 and 1970. He then acquired a Masters of Law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law in the US and thereafter started work at the Northwestern Legal Assistance Clinic. He appeared in Chicago’s courts representing the clinic’s litigants. Further, he started work with the Centre for Research in Chicago. Recently, the Tumkur University, Karnataka, also conferred the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree honoris causa on him for his contribution to the world of law and justice. In 2016, he was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Letters by Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University Kota.
After his return from the US, he started practice at Rajasthan High Court from 1973 to 1976. He shifted to Delhi in 1977 and practied in the Supreme Court. After a successful career of 23 years as a practising lawyer, he was appointed a judge in the Delhi High Court in 1991. He was then appointed Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. In October 2005, he was elevated to the Supreme Court as a judge. After an illustrious term at the Indian apex court, he was sworn in as a member of the ICJ on June 19, 2012. In 2014, Justice Bhandari was conferred with Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in India.
Bhandari has served as an Executive Member of the International Law Association, India Chapter, since 1994. He was also elected President of the India International Law Foundation in 2007 and holds the position still.
Some of his judgments have prompted the government to consider changes in laws as well. He has heard and delivered a large number of landmark judgments and his specialty in law surrounds comparative law, public interest litigation, constitutional law, criminal law, civil procedure code, administrative law, arbitration laws, insurance and banking and family laws.
Some of the changes caused due to his landmark judgments:
According to ICJ, in keeping with a landmark judgment in a divorce case by Justice Bhandari, the Indian government has taken into serious consideration his suggestion for amendment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It seeks to incorporate irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce.
His judgments on food grains matters led to the increase in the quantum of food supplied by the government to each person living below the poverty line across the country.
His orders in cases relating to night shelters led to governments making provisions of night shelters for the homeless all over the country.
He passed a monumental judgment in the matter of right to free and compulsory education for children. The orders resulted in the availability of basic infrastructural facilities for children in primary and secondary schools across India.
Bhandari is notable for his interest in computerization and Intellectual property law. Also he has a history of promoting legal education, both to professionals and to the general public who might be litigants. He has established mediation and conciliation centers in Maharashtra and an information centre for litigants in the Bombay High Court.