The Hague: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday rejected India’s request to ‘acquit, release and return’ of its national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced by Pakistan on charges of espionage, however, asked Pakistan to provide him consular access.
President of the ICJ Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf read out the decision in a public sitting at the Peace Palace’s courtroom jam packed with officials, representatives and media persons from Pakistan and India.
In response to India’s plea to release Jadhav and to facilitate his safe passage to India, The Hague-based court said, “It is not the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav, which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”
The court did not uphold the submissions by India that the “partial or total annulment of conviction or sentence provided the necessary and sole remedy”.
It also declared that a continued stay of execution constituted an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction.
In its final verdict, the ICJ ruled that it had the jurisdiction to entertain the application of India under the Vienna Convention.
The United Nations’ top court said it had the jurisdiction under Article 1 of the Optional Protocol concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963. Pakistan had argued that Article 36 of Vienna Convention was not applicable in cases of espionage.
Flanked by English Queen’s counsel Barrister Khawar Qureshi, a 13-member Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor along with Director General South Asia Dr Muhammad Faisal and comprising officials of the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was present in the courtroom.
Serving Indian Navy Commander Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 in a counter-intelligence operation from the Balochistan province.
A military court had given him death sentence on April 10, 2017 on charges of espionage following his confession on operating for India’s RAW to conduct terrorist activities on the Pakistani soil.
India had invoked the jurisdiction of ICJ on May 8, 2017 seeking stay in implementation of execution and later on expanded its prayer for consular access and also his acquittal, release and return.
The 15-member ICJ bench had reserved its decision on February 21 after hearing oral submissions by Pakistan and India.