Jadhav Case: Pak Seeks Its Own Judge at ICJ, To Rake Up 2008 Treaty Again
As delegates from India and Pakistan met the president of the International Court of Justice, Ronny Abraham to discuss the future course of proceedings in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, Pakistan expressed its intention to appoint an Ad Hoc judge to be there in all the proceedings of the case and India requested for at least release or acquittal of Kulbhushan Jadhav.
File photo of Kulbhushan Jadhav (Image: NEWS18 Creatives)
New Delhi: Pakistan has opened a two-pronged attack on India in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. While on one side, it has sought appointment of an ad-hoc judge from Pakistan on the bench hearing the case at the International Court of Justice, on the other, it has registered a nine-year-old bilateral agreement on consular relations with India at the UN Secretariat, which might be an attempt to question ICJ’s jurisdiction in the case.
Delegates from India and Pakistan met ICJ president Ronny Abraham on Thursday to discuss the future course of proceedings in the Jadhav case. While India sought release or acquittal of its citizen, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali said Pakistan intended to appoint an ad-hoc judge on the bench, who will sit for all proceedings in the case, including the substantive hearing.
The bigger surprise was the registration of the ‘2008 bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan concerning consular relations’ with the UN Secretariat.
Documents accessed by News18 show that the agreement on consular access between the Pakistan and India, which was signed on May 21, 2008 was registered by Pakistan with the United Nations Secretariat on May 17 this year. It is now listed in the UN Treaty Collections.
This was done a day before the World Court ordered stay on the execution of Jadhav till the pendency of the proceedings to grant India consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Pakistan’s contention during the first round of hearing was that the 2008 bilateral agreement would render the VCCR redundant and therefore leave ICJ without jurisdiction over the dispute.
But Harish Salve, appearing for India, had clarified that the agreement was not registered with the UN and unless registered, it cannot be invoked according to the UN Charter.
However, Pakistan’s registration of the 2008 bilateral agreement seems like an attempt to rake up the issue at the ICJ once again.
Yateesh Begoore, a public international lawyer, told News18 that this will now lead to a “long court battle.”
“By registering the 2008 agreement with the UN Secretariat, Pakistan would claim that it has the right to invoke the said agreement and hence the case is not governed by the VCCR. Registration was the only defect and now they have fixed that. Looks like we are in a long fight in the court,” said Begoore.
“The 2008 agreement has a very ambiguous clause relating to national security exceptions. They may argue that the 2008 agreement constitutes a subsequent agreement which governs the current dispute. Secondly, a nation does not register a treaty (especially this late into a dispute) if you don’t intend to invoke it. So we may expect a full blown case with questions of law being involved,” Begoore added.
Even a press statement from the AG of Pakistan on Thursday stated that the country was confident of “winning” at the ICJ. “The Government of Pakistan is fully confident that India can never succeed in its application. India can never obtain acquittal or release of Commander Jadhav on the basis of its application to the International Court,” read the press release.
On Thursday, the Pakistani delegation was led by the Attorney General for Pakistan. Other members of the delegation included Mohammad Faisal, Director General for South Asia in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmad Irfan Aslam, Head of International Disputes Unit in the Office of the Attorney General, and Khawar Qureshi QC, Counsel for Pakistan.
The President of ICJ, according to the statement, sought the views of the parties as to ascertain an approximate time for filing their written submissions. Pakistan has urged the World Court to adopt an “expedited timetable” for the substantive hearing and now the court is slated to announce the timetable shortly.
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