ICJ hears Kulbhushan Jadhav case, India and Pakistan at loggerheads

Kulbhushan Jadhav was apprehended on March 3, 2016, after he illegally crossed into Pakistan, according to Pakistani officials | Picture credits: Indian Express

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Pakistan’s demand to adjourn the hearing of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case today. Pakistan’s counsel, Anwar Mansoor Khan, reiterated that Jadhav entered Pakistan to attack Balochistan at the behest of the Indian government as a part of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – India’s intelligence agency. He also said that Jadhav’s trial in Pakistan was a fair one and that he had previously confessed to being a spy for RAW. Khan accused India of violating the Geneva Convention that lays down regulations for countries hostile to each other.

Arguing that a Pakistan military court’s trial and sentencing of Kulbhushan Jadhav “hopelessly failed” to satisfy due process, India on Monday urged the ICJ at The Hague to annul Jadhav’s death sentence and order his immediate release.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, the lawyer representing India and Jadhav in the case at the ICJ, opened the hearing. The top UN court will hear Pakistan’s submissions on Tuesday, followed by counters from both countries on Wednesday and Thursday.

The four-day public hearing began on Monday at the ICJ headquarters amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which killed 40 CRPF personnel.

India’s demand to nullify the Pakistan military court’s decision indicated a marked shift from its earlier plea, when it had sought consular access to Jadhav in May 2017. Then, New Delhi had asked for “immediate suspension” of the death sentence, ask Pakistan to annul the sentence and if that was not possible, then the ICJ should declare the decision as “illegal” and release Jadhav.

But on Monday, the Indian side forcefully asked the ICJ for “annulment” of Jadhav’s conviction and his release forthwith putting the onus of annulment on the ICJ, and not Pakistan.

Salve also established that Pakistan’s conduct in not allowing consular access to Jadhav from the time of his detention up to his conviction and thereafter, is a gross violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. He said that the Indian side gave 13 reminders for consular access, but Pakistan did not respond.

Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan by Pakistani security forces on 3 March, 2016. Pakistani security forces reported Jadhav as a serving officer in the Indian Navy and stated that he was commissioned to the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s intelligence agency. They believed him to be involved in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi. On 10 April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death.

Compiled by Abhinaya with inputs from CNN News, Indian Express, ANI, Hindustan Times.