The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday stayed the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan. Jadhav had been arrested in Pakistan’s restive province of Balochistan in 2016 and accused of terrorism, spying, and fomenting trouble in Balochistan. He was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017.
However, the ICJ in the Hague, in a 15-1 decision, directed Pakistan to stay his execution and allow him consular access. The only judge to dissent was Tassaduq Hussain Jillani. ICJ president judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, who read out the judgement, also directed Pakistan to review and reconsider the death sentence awarded to Jadhav under the provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention that defines a framework for consular relations between countries. This can be seen as a victory for India as these were the main arguments on which New Delhi had based its case.
India has said that the Jadhav’s sentencing followed a “farcical trial”. New Delhi acknowledged that Jadhav was an Indian national, but said he had been kidnapped by Pakistani agents from Iran, where he had gone on a business trip after retiring from the Indian Navy. Pakistan, which has constantly accused India of supporting Baloch separatists, saw Jadhav’s capture as proof of India’s involvement in the unrest.
New Delhi also took exception to the fact that Islamabad had informed the Indian High Commission of Jadhav’s detention three weeks after Pakistan had first taken him into custody. India was also angered as repeated requests from its high commission in Islamabad to meet Jadhav were denied by Pakistan.
In May 2017, India approached the ICJ, which restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till the adjudication of the case.
Pakistan had raised three objections to the admissibility of India’s application in the case before the ICJ, including India’s alleged abuse of process, abuse of rights and unlawful conduct. The ICJ rejected all three.
The ICJ said “a continued stay of execution is an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of Jadhav.
It found that India had been deprived of the “right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”, which meant that Pakistan had “breached the obligations incumbent upon it under Article 36, paragraph 1 (a) and (c), of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations”.
The judgement also said that “the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to provide, by the means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of Jadhav. This means that Islamabad should take steps to remedy the violation of the rights enshrined in the Vienna Convention. Jadhav could now be tried once again in either a civilian or military court, but with proper legal assistance provided to him.
The judgement also said that Pakistan was under “obligation” to inform Jadhav “without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him in accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations”.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said: “We expect Pakistan to implement the directive immediately. This landmark judgement validates India’s position on this matter fully. We will continue to work vigorously for Jadhav’s early release and return to India.”