International Court of Justice on Thursday ordered Pakistan not to execute the alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav till a final decision is taken.
The court ruled that Pakistan must take all legal measures to ensure that Jadhav will not be executed until the final decision of the court comes, noting that India presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Jadhav is at risk of being executed before they complete the hearing in the case.
Agreeing to India’s argument of violation of the Vienna convention, the court said India should have been given consular access to Jadav as per the convention. The court also ruled it has prima facie jurisdiction jurisdiction in Kulbhushan Jadhav case, refuting Pakistan’s claim that issues of national secuirty wont come under ICJ.
“Rights invoked by India under the Vienna Convention are plausible. The court notes that the Vienna Convention does not exclude persons arrested for charges of spying or terrorism,” President of the Court Ronny Abraham said, while delivering the verdict. He also added that Pakistan’s arguments are not sufficient to deny rights invoked by India.
The verdict by a 11 member bench comes 10 days after India approached the UN’s top court for “provisional measure” of protection -- an interim relief -- in the Jadhav case. Indian delegation had demanded immediate annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence.
India, whose request for consular access to Jadhav was turned down 16 times, had approached the ICJ on 8 May, accusing Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and conducting a “farcical trial” for convicting Jadhav without a “shred of evidence” following which the court had stayed his execution.
During its submission to the ICJ on 15 May at a public hearing, India had demanded the immediate annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence, expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the hearing at the international court was over.
Jadhav was arrested on 3 March last year and sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and subversive activities. While India asserted that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the Indian Navy, Pakistan claims to have arrested Jadhav from its restive Balochistan province and had confessed to spying for Indian intelligence services.
India was represented Deepak Mittal, who is the head of the Pakistan division in the external affairs ministry and the case is argued by its lead attorney Harish Salve. The India team was present at the time of the verdict.
On its part, Pakistan has told the International Court of Justice that Vienna Convention provisions on consular access were not intended for a “spy” involved in terror activities and charged India with using the world body as a stage for “political theatre” in the Jadhav case.
But Pakistani representatives had also told the court Jadhav “has confessed to having been sent by India to wage terror on the innocent civilians and infrastructure of Pakistan”.
It is after 18 years that the two neighbours fought at the International Court of Justice. Last time, Pakistan had moved the ICJ seeking its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft.