Kulbhushan Jadhav: the story so far

The Hague battle for Kulbhushan Jadhav on Monday

Powai residents form a human chain in solidarity with Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Powai residents form a human chain in solidarity with Kulbhushan Jadhav.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe

India has acknowledged that it is rare for it to turn to the international court, a break from its stated position that it will not internationalise disputes with Pakistan.

The Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, will on Monday hold public hearings on the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Naval officer, who was arrested and sentenced to death by Pakistan in April over allegations of espionage and abetting terror.

The one-day hearing will involve two sessions of an hour and a half, according India and Pakistan an opportunity to make their case, starting with India in the morning. Pakistan’s session will follow in the afternoon. The court’s judgment, which could follow as early as in a few days or take several months, is binding with no appeal.

On Friday, ICJ President Ronny Abraham directed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to “act in such a way as to enable the court to enforce any decision it takes on the India plea,” effectively staying Jadhav’s execution until the court was able to hear and deliberate on the matter.

 

Ahead of the hearing, legal teams from India and Pakistan arrived at The Hague. The Indian team, led by former solicitor general Harish Salve who won the stay at the ICJ last week, is expected to focus on the violations of the Vienna convention by Pakistan on the issue of consular access, and on the lack of transparency in the Pakistani military court, which India has said, in its 12-page appeal, qualifies for the trial to be pronounced “illegal”.

The Pakistani team will be led by Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf, assisted by senior lawyer Asad Rahim. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, who has prior experience at the UN, is also expected to fly to The Hague, where Pakistan will be presenting its case using past precedent where India has refused the ICJ jurisdiction, including in the 1999 Atlantique case of a plane that was shot down by India.

Mr. Jadhav was denied 16 requests for consular access over the course of a year, while his family has not been issued visas to travel to Pakistan either, to help in any appeal process, says India.

 

India has sought relief in the form of immediate suspension of the death sentence, and a declaration that the sentenced handed to Mr. Jadhav was in defiance of Vienna Convention rights and in defiance of elementary human rights. It also calls for the court to restrain Pakistan from “giving effect to the sentence awarded by the military court” and to direct it to annul the decision of the military court.

“If Pakistan is unable to annul the decision, then this Court [is] to declare the decision illegal being violative of international law and treaty rights and restrain Pakistan from acting in violation of the Vienna Convention and international law by giving effect to the sentence or the conviction in any manner, and directing it to release the convicted Indian National forthwith.”

Epitomises tensions

The case of Mr. Jadhav — whom Pakistan accuses of being a spy for India’s Intelligence Agency Research and Analysis Wing, but who India says is innocent and has been kidnapped by Pakistani agents from Iran — has become a proxy for tensions between the two countries.

India has acknowledged that it is rare for it to turn to the international court, a break from its stated position that it will not internationalise disputes with Pakistan.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2020 11:43:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/battleground-hague-india-pakistan-at-icj-after-18-years/article18451519.ece

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