In a major diplomatic victory for India, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Wednesday granted consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence for the Indian national.
49-year-old Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017, evoking a sharp reaction in India. Follow | Live Updates
In a 15-1 verdict, a bench led by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said Pakistan had violated India’s rights to consular visits after Jadhav’s arrest. Pakistan’s judge was the lone dissenter during the hearing today.
The bench also ordered Pakistan to carry out an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”. The bench, however, rejected most of the remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court’s decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.
Judges said Pakistan “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation.”
Judge Yusuf further said Pakistan was under the obligation to inform India about the arrest and detention of Jadhav under the Vienna Convention. The bench observed that there was a three-week delay in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest on March 3, 2016, leading to a “breach” of Pakistan’s obligations under the convention.
Noting that India has made a number of requests for the consular access, which was denied by Pakistan, the court said it was “undisputed” fact that Pakistan did not accede to India’s appeals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the verdict and congratulated the ICJ. “We welcome today’s verdict in the @CIJ_ICJ. Truth and justice have prevailed. Congratulations to the ICJ for a verdict based on extensive study of facts. I am sure Kulbhushan Jadhav will get justice. Our Government will always work for the safety and welfare of every Indian,” he said.
We welcome today’s verdict in the @CIJ_ICJ. Truth and justice have prevailed. Congratulations to the ICJ for a verdict based on extensive study of facts. I am sure Kulbhushan Jadhav will get justice.
Our Government will always work for the safety and welfare of every Indian.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 17, 2019
Reacting on the ICJ verdict, Retd ACP Subhash Jadhav, Kulbhushan’s uncle, said, “While we are happy with the efforts put in by the Indian government, we want to see Kulbhushan become out alive from Pakistan. Till the time that does not happen, the fear will remain.”
Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also welcomed the verdict and said it was a “great victory for India”. She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the initiative to take Jadhav’s case before the ICJ. She also thanked Former Solicitor General Harish Salve who represented India at the ICJ in the case.
I wholeheartedly welcome the verdict of International Court of Justice in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. It is a great victory for India. /1
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 17, 2019
“I thank Mr Harish Salve for presenting India’s case before ICJ very effectively and successfully,” she said in another tweet. “I hope the verdict will provide the much-needed solace to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav,” she added.
Salve also expressed gratitude to the ICJ after the verdict. “Want to start by expressing gratitude of my country to the ICJ for the manner in which it intervened in this case. It protected Kulbhushan Jadhav from being executed, in a hearing which was put together in a matter of days,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also welcomed the ICJ’s verdict, directing Pakistan to grant consular access Jadhav.
Moments after the verdict, Pakistan responded by saying that it will now proceed “as per law” in case.
While Pakistan claims that it arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, after he reportedly entered from Iran, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
During the hearing at the ICJ, India had pointed out the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.
The verdict in the high-profile case comes nearly five months after a 15-member bench of ICJ led by Judge Yusuf had reserved its decision on February 21 after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings of the case took two years and two months to complete.
India had moved the ICJ in May 8, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.
(With PTI inputs)