The Hague/New Delhi, July 17: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) today ordered Pakistan to make an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and death sentence of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and also grant consular access, in a verdict that was hailed in India as a “big victory” for the country.
In a reprieve for Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017, a 16-member Bench by a 15-1 vote continued the stay on the execution and held Islamabad violated New Delhi’s rights to consular visits after his arrest.
A Chinese judge was part of the majority verdict, while the ad hoc judge from Pakistan on the Bench, headed by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, gave a dissenting opinion.
Rejecting Pakistan’s objection to admissibility of the Indian application in the case, the court in its 42-page order held that “a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review” of the sentence of Jadhav that had strained relations between the two neighbouring countries. The Bench, however, rejected some remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court’s decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.
Recalling that it had directed Pakistan to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in the case, the ICJ said Islamabad “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”.
The Bench observed that there was a three-week delay in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest on March 3, 2016, leading to a “breach” of Pakistan’s obligations under the convention.
The court ruled that Pakistan was under obligation to inform Jadhav without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular access to him in accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
External Affairs Minister of India S Jaishankar said he spoke to Jadhav’s family and applauds their courage. “Satyameva Jayate,” he tweeted. Opposition parties, including the Congress, hailed the ICJ decision. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said she was “heartened” by the verdict. PTI
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