Current Affairs — The ICJ verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case

The International Court of Justice ruling in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case

On July 17, 2019, the ICJ in The Hague in Netherlands pronounced its verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. The government of India had approached the Court to seek relief for Jadhav relating to his conviction and death sentence awarded by a military court in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan was the defendant.

What does Pakistan accuse Jadhav of.. Pakistan says Jadhav is an Indian Navy personnel, working as an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing  (RAW) of the government of India. He was arrested in Balochistan during a counter-insurgency operation. Later, he was tried by a military court and awarded death sentence – the punishment determined by Pakistani law.

What does India say about Jadhav .. India maintains that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a retired officer of the Indian Navy. He went to Iran to start some business there. Pakistan’s ISI had him kidnapped by some local armed men and taken to Pakistan leading to his arrest. A confession was obtained from him through coercion. In the confession, Jadhav said he was indeed an Indian spy, who was behind some terror incidents in Balochistan. Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, and his death sentence was awarded on April 10, 2017.

What India went to the ICJ for… India complained that Jadhav was denied consular access by Indian diplomats. Such a privilege is available to all such individuals under the Article 36 of the Geneva Convention. India demanded immediate consular access to contact Jadhav held in Pakistani jails. India also demanded that the ICJ should annul the death penalty and allow safe return of Jadhav to India.

What the ICJ said in its verdict…

The 15 judge bench of the ICJ agreed with India that Pakistan had indeed violated the Article 36 of the Geneva Convention by not allowing Jadhav consular visits by India diplomats. The Court asked Pakistan to immediately allow consular access to Jadhav. Additionally, it asked Pakistan to do the trial of Jadhav afresh through a fair process. Till that time, Jadhav’s execution can’t be carried out.

The Court disallowed the Indian plea for immediate release of Jadhav.

What happens now… It is all but certain that Indian diplomats will now meet Jadhav to ascertain the circumstances of his arrest, the reasons behind his ‘confession’ and most importantly, if he has been physically or mentally tortured while in Pakistani custody.

Secondly, Pakistan might conduct the retrial either by a civilian court or a military court, as before. If a civilian court conducts the retrial, and an Indian lawyer is allowed to defend Jadhav, it is possible that Jadhav might get a lesser sentence, or be let off. The same soft attitude is not expected from a military court. India will have the option to approach the ICJ afresh.

As of now, Kulbhushan Jadhav’s life is saved.

The latest development

Pakistan Informs Kulbhushan Jadhav of His Rights to Consular Access

Pakistan also said it would provide Indian consular officials access to Jadhav “under Pakistani laws” but that the modalities were still being worked out.

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