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ICJ stays Kulbhushan Jadhav's execution till final verdict

Vidya Ram | Updated on January 11, 2018
Judge Ronny Abraham (left), President of the ICJ, delivers the verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case as other judges look on, at the Peace Palace in The Hague on Thursday.

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Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the ICJ, delivers the verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the Peace Palace in The Hague on Thursday.

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Upholds India's plea for consular access

It was a big win for India today as the International Court of Justice today ruled that Pakistan should not execute Kulbhushan Jadhav till final verdict.

The International Court of Justice today delivered its order on India’s request to stay the execution of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charge of spying.

The court stayed Jadhav's execution and agreed to provisional measures.

The court found in favour of India's plea that no execution of Jadhav should be allowed until it has disposed off the case. The court has found uncertainty over when Jadhav’s appeal will be heard, but Pakistan has indicated that it could be after August 1. The court accepted India’s contention that there is an urgency with provisional measures.

Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the Court, has said till the final decision by the court the matter is sub judice.

Also read: Saving Kulbhushan Jadhav

Court says it has jurisdiction

The court said it has the power to indicate provisional measures that give the rights to the subject of judicial proceedings. The power of the court to indicate such measures only if there is an imminent risk, says Judge Abraham. The fact that Jadhav might be executed is indicative of the imminent risk that was mentioned, says Justice Abraham.

Vienna Convention does not contain provision excluding persons suspected of terrorism or espionage, said Justice Abraham. Effectively the court has overruled Pakistan’s objections on the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the issue.

The International Court of Justice ICJ upheld India's plea for consular access. Pakistan failure to follow the Convention falls under our jurisdiction.

Judge Ronny Abraham said, "On the date the application was filed a dispute existed between the parties as to Consular Acess with regard to trial and sentencing of Mr. Jadhav. The acts alleged by India are culpable of falling under the Vienna Convention guaranteeing the right to communicate and have access to consular access rights."

Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the Court, read out the details of the case specifying the arguments of both India and Pakistan.

"Pakistan had denied consular access to India but it informed India that consular access will be considered after India's assistance in the investigation of the issue. It appears that under Pakistani law that Mr. Jadhav will have 40 days to file an appeal, that is, till 19 May. It is not known if he has done that so far," said Judge Abraham.

"The Court must seek to determine whether Article 1 of Optional Protocol prima facie shows whether additional requirements are fulfilled. India & Pak are signatories to Vienna Convention optional protocol since 1976-77. The Court will ascertain whether such a dispute appeared to exist between the parties. The parties appear to have differed and still differ on the question of consular access to Jadhav and Vienna Convention."

The Indian delegation at the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Photo Credit: Vidya Ram

Brief summary of the case

Jadhav was sentenced to death in a Field General Court Martial on April 10, 2017 after three-and-a-half months of trial. He has been accused of espionage and working for the India’s R&AW. He was arrested from Balochistan on March 3 last year.

The issue has snowballed into a flash point for India-Pakistan relations. While Pakistan had said that it has a "confession video" of Jadhav saying he spied for India, India had argued that Pakistan violated the provisions of Vienna Convention on Consular Access. Pakistan has rejected counsular access 16 times so far.

Published on May 18, 2017

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