The International Court of Justice on Wednesday delivered its verdict in a case relating to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and ruled in favour of India. It directed Pakistan to review the death sentence to Jadhav and affirmed his right to consular access.
Reading out the verdict, President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing had evoked a sharp reaction in India.
The World Court also found Pakistan in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations for denying consular access to Jadhav.
Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj welcomed the ICJ verdict and called it a “great victory for India”. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also said justice has been delivered in the true sense of that word.
The verdict in the high-profile case comes nearly five months after a 15-member bench of ICJ led by Judge Yusuf had reserved its decision on 21 February after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings of the case took two years and two months to complete.
India moved the ICJ on 8 May, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.
A bench of the ICJ, which was set up after World War II to resolve international disputes, on 18 May, 2017 had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
A four-day public hearing in the high-profile case took place in February amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers on 14 February.
During the hearing in ICJ, both India and Pakistan submitted their detailed pleas and responses.
India based its case on two broad issues ― breach of Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution.
Harish Salve, who was representing India in the case, questioned the functioning of Pakistan’s notorious military courts and urged the top UN court to annul Jadhav’s death sentence, which is based on an “extracted confession”.
In his submission in the ICJ on the last day of the hearing, Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi said, “India’s claim for relief must be dismissed or declared inadmissible.”
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on 3 March, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.
However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
Pakistan had rejected India’s plea for consular access to Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wants the access to get the information gathered by its “spy”.
However, Pakistan facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on 25 December, 2017.
(With PTI inputs)