Espionage Charges, India-Pak War of Words & ICJ Hope: Tracing Kulbhushan Jadhav's Case
India had approached the International Court of Justice on May 8, 2017 and asked for proceedings against Pakistan for violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 in the matter of the Jadhav’s detention and trial.
File photo of Kulbhushan Jadhav.
More than two years after India approached it, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague, Netherlands, will pronounce its judgment in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case on Wednesday.
Jadhav was sentenced to death by a military court of Pakistan on charges of being an Indian spy in 2017. India had then moved the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, against the military court's verdict.
Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, was arrested by the Pakistani officials on March 3, 2016, on suspicion of espionage and sabotage activities against the country. After his arrest, Pakistan released a video of Jadhav purportedly confessing to being a RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) spy. In the video, he said that he was picked up by the RAW in 2013 and had been directing various activities in Balochistan and Karachi at the behest of intelligence agency since then.
India rejected Pakistan's claims and maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had started a business after retiring from the Navy.
India was first informed about the arrest on March 25, 2016 and sought consular access to Jadhav on the very same day, but the request did not elicit any response from the other side. On March 30, 2016, India again sent a reminder reiterating its request for consular access at the earliest. India made at least 16 such requests to Pakistan till April 26, 2017 but all of them failed to evoke any response.
Meanwhile, on April 10, 2017, Pakistan informed India that Jadhav had been sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism by a military court in Pakistan.
Almost a month later, on May 8, 2017, India approached the ICJ and asked for proceedings against Pakistan “for egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963” in the matter of the Jadhav’s detention and trial.
India contended that it had not been informed of Jadhav's arrest until long after his detention and that the Islamic Republic failed to inform the alleged spy of his rights. It also said that Pakistan, in violation of the Vienna Conventions, had denied consular access to Jadhav despite India's multiple requests.
In the application, India sought immediate suspension of the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, to declare that the military court's verdict violated international laws and the provisions of Vienna Convention and, finally, to direct Pakistan to release the convicted Indian national.
The ICJ commenced first Public hearings in the matter on May 15, 2017. On May 18, 2017, the court directed Pakistan to "take all measures to ensure that Kulbhushan Jadhav is not executed pending a final judgment of the Court in the case.” In the unanimous order, the Court asked the government of Pakistan to inform it of all the measures taken in implementation of the order. The court also stated that until the final judgment is delivered, “it shall remain seised of the matters which form the subject-matter" of this case.
On June 13, 2017, the court fixed the time-limits for initial submissions by India and counter-submissions by Pakistan for September 13, 2017 and December 13, 2017, respectively. These pleadings were filed within the time-limit thus fixed.
Amid this, after a 22-month-long detention, Pakistan facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and his wife in Islamabad on December 25, 2017.
On April 17, 2018, India submitted its reply on the case while Pakistan filed its rejoinder on July 17, 2018. Earlier this year, between February 18, 2019 and February 21, 2019, the ICJ concluded the final set of public hearings in the case and finally the court announced July 17, 2019 as the date of the pronouncement of the judgment earlier this month.
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