The international Court of Justice has asked Pakistan to review Indian National Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence and provide consular access to him. The ICJ ruled in favour of India by 15 votes to 1.
The court said that it found that Pakistan deprived India of the right to communicate with and have access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation and thereby breached obligations incumbent upon it under Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The verdict in the case has come nearly five months after a 15-member bench of the ICJ led by Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf had reserved its decision on 21 February after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan.
During its submission in 2017, India had demanded the immediate suspension of Jadhav’s death sentence, expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the hearing at the ICJ was over. India’s forceful submission was made as the ICJ began hearing the case of the 49-year-old former Navy officer, who was arrested in March 2016 before being sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and subversive activities. But, India has always maintained that Jadhav was picked up from Iran, where he had business interests.
The world court had stayed Jadhav’s hanging in 2017 as the judge said that Pakistan ‘shall take all measures to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed until the court has given its final decision.’ ICJ Judge Ronny Abraham had also observed that India ought to have been given consular access to Jadhav under the Vienna Convention.
The Jadhav case was taken to the world court in May 2017 by India, which accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and conducting a ‘farcical trial’ for convicting the Indian national without a ‘shred of evidence.’
On its part, Pakistan had told the ICJ that the Vienna Convention provisions on consular access were not intended for a “spy” involved in terror activities and charged India with using the world body as a stage for “political theatre” in the Jadhav case.
The two neighbours last had a face-off at the ICJ 18 years ago when Islamabad sought its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft.