The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to declare its verdict on July 17 in the case relating to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav. Jadhav is an an Indian national and a retired Navy officer, who was arbitrarily arrested by Pakistan in 2016 for being an ‘Indian spy’. The Indian government had approached the International Court of Justice over the arbitrary death sentence handed down to Jadhav after an ad hoc hearing in Pakistan.
Who is Kulbushan Jadhav?
Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, was arrested by Pakistani officials on 3 March 2016 in Balochistan, as claimed by Pakistan, on suspicion of espionage and sabotage activities against the country. Pakistan claims that Jadhav was an Indian spy working for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.
However, the Indian government maintains that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government.
A Pakistani military court sentenced him to death in April 2017 on charges of espionage and terrorism. However, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has asked Pakistan to hold off the execution till it reaches its final verdict in the case.
A timeline of events:
25 March 2016: Pakistani establishment informed the Indian authorities about Jadhav’s arrest in a press release. On the same day, India sought consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav for the first time.
30 March 2016: India once again sent a reminder reiterating its request for consular access. In addition, thirteen more reminders were sent.
7 December 2016: Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz in December 2016 had also confirmed that conclusive evidence against Kulbhushan has not been found. But, Pakistan Foreign Ministry soon released a statement the same day stating that the statement attributed to the Adviser is incorrect.
6 January 2017: Pakistan announced that it has submitted a dossier to the new United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres over Indian interference in Islamabad, which was aimed at “destabilizing” the nation.
10 April 2017: Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a press release informed that Jadhav had been awarded the death sentence by a military court in Pakistan.
A case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ):
In May 2017, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav. India had also challenged the “farcical” trial by the military court of Pakistan against the 48-year-old.
On 15 May 2017, the ICJ decided to hear the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav as India and Pakistan presents their argument in the trial. Senior jurist and former Solicitor General of India, Harish Salve represented the country in the International Court of Justice.
The ICJ on 18 May 2017, restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till the adjudication of the case. The ICJ put a stay on the death sentence given by Pakistan to Kulbhushan Jadhav after an appeal from India, which accused Pakistan of “egregious violations” of the Vienna Convention.
India had filed its second round of pleadings on 17 April 2018 to the ICJ at The Hague. “In keeping with the order of the International Court of Justice of January 17, 2018, India today (Tuesday) submitted its reply in the court in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
However, on 7 July 2018, Pakistan submitted rejoinder in ICJ on the conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav.
On 20 November 2018, Sushma Swaraj sought diplomatic access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India had sought diplomatic access to former Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.
Finally, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) began the public hearing over the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav on 19 February 2019. India has sought annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence and his immediate release, stating that the Pakistani army court verdict has failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process.
In February, India presenting its case in the ICJ had asserted that Pakistan had nothing beyond an extracted confession. Responding to Pakistan’s questions about Jadhav’s nationality, Salve said that Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, which is proof of his nationality.
Taking a dig at Pakistan, Harish Salve had said that unlike Pakistan, India never denies the nationality of its citizens in another country, referring to Pakistan regularly refusing to accept Pakistani terrorists killed or captured by Indian security forces. He had said that Indian nationals are not the kind whose nationality needs to be denied.
Harish Salve had said Pakistan did not uphold Article 36 of the Vienna Convention which states that consular access applies to all nationals, regardless of espionage claims.