Verdict Kulbhushan!

ICJ asks Pakistan not to execute Jadhav until final decision is taken

In a final verdict favouring India, the International Court of Justice stayed Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution and asked Pakistan to review the case. The court in its decision favouring India 15-1, retracted Pakistan’s claim of not providing Consular access to Mr. Jadhav.

A “principal judicial organ” of the United Nations(UN), the International Court of Justice (ICJ)  was founded in 1945.

Structure of ICJ

The court hears only those cases which the States submit themselves or any other matter referred to it by a United Nation organ. The reverent lordship consists of 15 judges. They are appointed by a combined association of UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. In 2017 the Indian Judge, Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected. His appointment was closely watched by the international observers as it became an event of importance. His victory, after United Kingdom representative withdrew his nomination, disassociated the UK for the first time from the council.

History of the Case

Pakistan alleged that Kulbhushan Jadhav, 49, was caught spying for India’s premier intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). In this regard, the Pakistani military court convicted Jadhav on charges of “espionage and terrorism”. Whereas India claims Mr Jadhav to be abducted by Pakistan from Iran. Further, on being repeatedly denied the Consular access, India moved the ICJ for the violation of the provisions under the Vienna Convention done by Pakistan under which matter of Consular access is mentioned.

The judgement.

The current chair of ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, read out the judgement. The court asked Pakistan to review Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence and meanwhile, continued the stay on Mr Jadhav’s execution. The ruling said ” the  Court finds that Pakistan is under an obligation to provide, by means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav, so as to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention”

Senior Advocate Harish Salve earlier represented Indian side of the case before the ICJ . He had maintained that  Jadhav’s conviction was based on extracted confessions and that the military court had not followed due process.

The court, further, repudiated Pakistan’s argument that the right to Consular access does not apply to persons accused of espionage. This will allow Kulbhushan Jadhav to be given the same at once.

What is Consular Access?

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 provides a structure for consular relations between nations. A consul protects the host country’s interests. It became imperative for Mr Jadhav to be given consul access in this case for a fair trial. As Mr Tarun Rao Kallakuru, a law scholar at IIT Kharagpur describing its vitality said ” By giving Shri. Jadhav such access, it will ensure that his side of the story is presented before the Court of Law without prejudice or suppression of facts. Most significant is that Consular access can ensure, at least to an extent, humane treatment while being held in Pakistan”

Way Ahead.

Though the decision does not ensure the return of Mr Jadhav for now, it has been a big shot in the arm for the Indian government. Encouraged by it, the Indian side will draft a way ahead for finally bringing back Mr Jadhav home. Meanwhile, on the other side, it will be difficult for Pakistan to not abide by the ruling as the court’s final verdict holds an immense international weight. Pakistan might even use this as an opportunity of showing magnanimity by releasing Mr Jadav as a confidence-building measure. Time and again Imran Khan has reiterated the idea of “New Pakistan”. The current situation acts an unprecedented opportunity to him to prove the same.