India won a major victory as the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in its favour and confirmed Jadhav’s right to have consular access. The court has stayed the death sentence and asked Pakistan to review and reconsider its sentence in a 15-1 verdict, with the sole dissent vote being a judge from Pakistan.
The verdict comes three years after ex-Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest and was delievered at the Peace Palace in the Hague, Netherlands. , He had been sentenced to death by Pakistani military court for alleged involvement in spying. While staying the death sentence, the court has asked Pakistan to reconsider its verdict.
The long drawn case has been fought between India and Pakistan with the former alleging that Pakistan has violated the provisions of the Vienna Convention by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav. The 49-year old retired Indian Navy officer was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India.
The ICJ, in a statement early this month, said a public sitting would take place at 3 pm (6.30 pm IST) on July 17 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which top judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will read out the verdict.
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. India, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
In May 8, 2017, India told the ICJ that Pakistan has violated the provisions of the Vienna Convention by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav. To this end, a 10-member bench of the ICJ, which was set up after World War II to resolve international disputes, on May 18, 2017 had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
A four-day public hearing in the high-profile case took place in February amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers on February 14.
During the hearing in ICJ, both India and Pakistan submitted their detailed pleas and responses.
India based its case on two broad issues — breach of Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution.
Harish Salve, who was representing India in the case, questioned the functioning of Pakistan’s notorious military courts and urged the top UN court to annul Jadhav’s death sentence, which is based on an “extracted confession”.
In his submission in the ICJ on the last day of the hearing, Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi said, “India’s claim for relief must be dismissed or declared inadmissible.”
Pakistan had rejected India’s plea for consular access to Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wanted the access to get the information gathered by its “spy”. It, however, facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on December 25, 2017.
India though seems confident of a favourable verdict and justice being served to Jadhav — the verdict comes on International Justice Day.
Read full verdict here
–India Legal Bureau