The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday stayed the death sentence of former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who was convicted last month by a Pakistani military court after being found guilty of espionage activities. The ICJ gave the order against a plea submitted by India seeking provisional measures from the court to stop Pakistan’s execution of Jadhav.
An 11-judge bench of the ICJ in Hague directed Pakistan that it shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure Kulbhushan Jadhav is not executed till further order. It also observed that prima facie the Vienna Convention’s provisions will be applicable in the case.
“The decision to stay Jadhav’s execution pending ICJ hearing is unanimous,” said ICJ President Ronny Abraham. Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi in his submission to the bench had highlighted the 150-day clemency period at Jadhav’s disposal which will finish around end of August. But, the court observed that since Pakistan did not give any guarantee that they will not execute Jadhav until ICJ gives its final verdict in the case, Jadhav could be executed any time after August. Hence it established that the urgency was true in this case.
“It considers that the mere fact that Mr. Jadhav is under a death sentence and might therefore be executed is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India,” the court said.
Reacting to the verdict, Pakistan said it will present solid evidence against Jadhav in the International Court of Justice. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that India has tried to divert the world’s attention by presenting the case from a humanitarian angle and that it was trying to hide its real face by taking Jadhav’s case to ICJ.
“The real face of India will be exposed before the world,” he said. He added that Jadhav had twice confessed to sabotage, terrorism and subversion activities.
Ministry of External Affairs held a press conference hours after the pronouncement of the verdict. MEA said that the government will do everything in its power to save the life of Jadhav. MEA Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said “The provisional relief provided by the ICJ is the first step in ensuring justice to Jadhav. The order by the ICJ is unanimous, favourable, clear and unambiguous. The verdict a matter of great relief for people of the country,” he said.
Political reactions in India
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that “ICJ’s decision to stay the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav gives people of India a deep sense of satisfaction and relief”. Words of temporary relief came from the Tilak Devashar. “Comprehensive and unambiguous decision; We’ve managed to save K Jadhav from jaws of death,” said Jadhav, former special secretary to the Cabinet Secretariat.
Senior advocate Harish Salve presented India’s case at ICJ as India’s counsel. His efforts drew appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said that the decision comes as a sigh of relief to the family ok Jadhav and the people of India.
In a series of tweets, Minister of Finance and Defence Arun Jaitley hailed the ICJ decision and congratulated Swaraj and Salve. He said “ICJ verdict endorses the relevance and necessity of procedural and substantive fairness which was denied by Pakistan. Well done! HarishSalve – you have done India Proud,” adding “Congratulations to EAM Smt. @SushmaSwaraj ji and the entire Hague team.”
Opposition Congress leader Manish Tewari said that it was upon the Government of India to use the ICJ decision as a trigger to bring Jadhav back to India adding.
India’s first law officer, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, said that the entire episode was a charade. “Pakistan completely blown by this decision. The decision is certainly binding for both states. I hope that final decision also comes India’s way and we can see Jadhav come back home.” He added that India’s stand is victorious and congratulated all the people attached to the effort, especially the foreign ministry.
The decision of the international court is binding upon Pakistan and as clearly cited by the president of ICJ, any violation will mean international implications. But ICJ’s judgments have not always been abided by in the past, though. In such scenario, Jadhav’s life remains in the hands of Pakistani generals who seized him from Iran.