Big win for India – ICJ orders Pakistan to stay execution of Kulbhushan

In a major step forward for India in Kulbhushan Jadhav case, the Hague-based International Court of Justice on Thursday (18 May) stayed the death sentence of the former Indian Navy officer, given by a Pakistani military court, until further notice.

“It is appropriate to say that Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure Kulbhushan Jadhav is not executed pending final decision,” said ICJ presiding judge Justice Ronny Abraham while reading out the much-awaited order. Justice Abraham said that the ICJ had prime facie jurisdiction in the case.

Making a forceful argument for India before the 11-judge ICJ Bench, senior advocate Harish Salve contended that Pakistan has clearly violated the Vienna Convention and conducting a “farcical trial” for convicting Jadhav without a “shred of evidence”.

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Salve stressed that not granting consular access and not giving legal representation to Jadhav amounts to a “miscarriage of justice” and a “violation of his right” to defend himself from concocted charges in a “farcical trial”. India sought consular access for Jadhav 15 times, but Pakistan has turned down India’s request every time.

Justice Abraham said that under the Vienna Convention, India should have received consular access to seek justice for the former Indian Naval officer.

During its submission, India had demanded the immediate suspension of Jadhav’s death sentence, expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the hearing at the ICJ was over.

It could be noted that Pakistan had kidnapped the 46-year-old former Indian Navy officer from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the service. But Pakistan is blatantly lying claiming that it had arrested Jadhav from Balochistan on March 3, 2016. India was not informed of Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest.

Reacting to the ICJ order in Kulbhushan Jadhav case External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed satisfaction at the ICJ judgement in Jadhav case. PM Modi spoke to the External Affairs Minister and thanked her and appreciated the appreciate efforts of senior advocate Harish Salve who represented India in the case.

Reacting to the ICJ order, Attorney General for India Mukul Rohatgi said, “The entire thing was a charade. Pakistan is completely blown by this decision. India’s stand is victorious.”

“Hope that final decision also comes India’s way and we can see Jadhav come back home,” he added.

India and Pakistan last had a face-off at the ICJ 18 years ago when Islamabad sought its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft in 1999, shortly after Kargil war. India had strongly contested the case on the issue of jurisdiction. The ICJ had upheld New Delhi’s position.

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