Pakistan should not execute Kulbhushan Jadhav till final verdict, rules ICJ

International Court of Justice President Judge Ronny Abraham (left) delivers the verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the Peace Palace in The Hague on Thursday.  

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav execution stayed
  • Pakistan objection on jurisdiction overruled
  • Indian plea pressing urgency for provisional relief upheld
  • World Court reminds Pakistan that the decision is binding
  • The issue is now with the ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday stayed the execution of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charge of spying, till its final decision.

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Here are the live updates:

6.30 p.m.: Speaking on the steps of the court following the order, Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE Moazzam Ahmad Khan says “It’s a very basic thing the court has done — has given ruling on the provisional measures which is a procedural process and that is about it — the court has given said nothing on the merits or the maintainability of the case.”

6.18 p.m.: While the ICJ’s order on Thursday was strictly confined to the issue of India’s request for provisional measures — effectively staying the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav until the court had had time to come to a decision on the matter — former Supreme Court Judge Dalveer Bhandari adds a further declaration to the order, concluding that “the basic human rights of Mr. Jadhav have been violated by not allowing India to have consular access to him after his arrest and during the pendency of the criminal proceedings against him in Pakistan.”

6.15 p.m.: “Hope concerned authorities of Pakistan have heard. Order created legally binding international obligations,” says the MEA reacting to Pakistan Attorney-General’s comments.

6.00 p.m.: “Every Indian is relieved to hear the ICJ order today. Until the court is seized of the matter, Kulbhushan Jadhav will not be executed,” says the MEA.

5.45 p.m.: India has been “trying to hide its real face” by taking the case to the ICJ and Pakistan will present solid evidence against Jadhav in the court, says Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson.

5.10 p.m.: The sitting attracted the local Indian community as well as tourists. Shekhar Jagtap of J. Shekhar & Co. Advocate & Associates in Mumbai, who attended the session while on holiday, said,  “There is a feeling of great excitement that India's position has been affirmed by the verdict — the arguments by India were prima facie accepted regarding provisional measures, jurisdiction, and urgency. Three important factors that Mr. Salve argued and Dr. Mittal had clarified. There has been a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.  Now Pakistan must realise there has to be a rule of law.”

5.00  p.m.: Prime Minister Narendra Modi expresses satisfaction at the ICJ order. He speaks to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to thank her and appreciates the efforts of advocate Harish Salve, who represented India in the case, PTI quotes official sources as saying.

4.25 p.m.: Ms. Swaraj tweets minutes after the verdict, "I assure the nation that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi we will leave no stone unturned to save Kulbhushan Jadhav". Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu also tweets, "International Court of Justice staying execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav has exposed Pakistan. I'm sure final order too will go in our favour."

4.15 p.m.: Pakistan's agent does not make any comment on going on appeal against the verdict.

4.10 p.m.: Mr. Jadhav's childhood friends in Mumbai celebrate the verdict. 

Kulbhushan Jadhav's childhood friends celebrates ICJ verdict.

Kulbhushan Jadhav's childhood friends celebrates ICJ verdict.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre


4 p.m.: The ICJ unanimously agrees to provisional measures; reminds Pakistan that the verdict is binding on them.

3.51 p.m.: The court finds uncertainty over when Mr. Jadhav’s appeal will be heard, but Pakistan has indicated that it could be after August 1; The court finds in favour of India’s contention that there is an urgency with provisional measures. President of the court Judge Ronny Abraham says till the final decision of the court the matter is sub judice.

3.50 p.m.:  The court has the power to indicate provisional measures that give the rights to the subject of judicial proceedings and if only there is an imminent risk, says Judge Abraham. The fact that Mr. Jadhav might be executed is indicative of the imminent risk that was mentioned, he notes.

3.45 p.m.: The Vienna Convention does not contain provision excluding persons suspected of terrorism or espionage, says Judge Abraham. (Effectively, the court has overruled Pakistan’s objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the issue). 

3.40 p.m.: The ICJ upholds India's plea for consular access. Pakistan's failure to follow the Convention falls under its jurisdiction, it says.

3.38 p.m.: Judge Abraham says, "On the date the application was filed, a dispute existed between the parties as to consular Access with regard to the 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."

3.30 p.m.: Judge Abraham reads 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 Mr. Jadhav will have 40 days to file an appeal till  i.e.19 May. It is not known if he has done that so far," he says.

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

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


"The court must seek to determine whether Article 1 of Optional Protocol prima facie shows whether additional requirements are fulfilled. India and Pakistan are signatories to the 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 the Convention."

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The Indian delegation at the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

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


3.00 p.m: Interest builds up ahead of the verdict with members of the Indian community in The Hague. Harbhajan Singh who has lived in The Hague for 40 years has come to hear about the case. This is his first visit to the ICJ. “We want to show our support for Mr. Jadhav," he says. With him is Yasphal Singh, who lives in Alkmaar near Amsterdam.

Pakistan should not execute Kulbhushan Jadhav till final verdict, rules ICJ

So will the verdict be legally binding?

The decision only pertains to India’s request for the indication of provisional measures, and not on its wider application regarding Mr. Jadhav’s fate. An order would be legally binding on Pakistan, unlike the letter that was sent to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week, calling for the execution not to take place until the hearings happen. The court President's letter indicates that the ICJ may take on prima facie jurisdiction of India's request under Article 74 for provisional measures.

The sentencing

Mr. 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, working for India’s R&AW. He was allegedly arrested from Balochistan on March 3 last year.  

While Pakistan said that it has a "confession video" of Mr. Jadhav saying he spied for India, India argued that Pakistan violated the provisions of the Vienna Convention on consular access. Pakistan has rejected consular access 16 times so far. 

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As a rare case, India approached the ICJ, seeking relief in the form of the immediate suspension of Jadhav's death sentence and a declaration that the sentenced handed to him was in defiance of rights defined by the Vienna Convention and in violation of basic human rights.

ICJ's fourth death penalty case

It can be noted that this is the fourth case involving the death penalty heard by the ICJ. Also, This is the first death penalty case at the ICJ not involving the United States.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 9:53:09 PM |

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