ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday confirmed that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will announce its verdict the Kulbhushan Jadhav case on July 17.
Jadhav, an Indian spy, had been sentenced to death in April 2017 by a Pakistani military court over charges of espionage, following which India moved The Hague-based ICJ. A 10-member bench of the ICJ had in May 2017, restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
Pakistan said that its security forces arrested Jadhav from Balochistan on March 3, 2016, after he allegedly “entered Pakistan from Iran”. India, however, maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
India and Pakistan both concluded their arguments in February. Pakistan accused India of using ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save spy Jadhav from execution.
Pakistan is being represented by English Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi, asserted that India failed to answer important questions as it did not clarify if he is Kulbhushan Jadhav or Hussain Mubarak Patel.
India’s Counsel Advocate Harish Salve, who had also earlier represented the country in the same case, presented his statement before the court, which mostly appeared to be based on repetition of points raised in previous proceedings.
Salve highlighted the issues including denial of consular access by Pakistan and its breach of Article 36 (1)(b) of the Vienna Convention – the similar arguments that India came up with during maiden statement of objections.
He opposed the death penalty announced by Pakistan, citing it contrary to the fundamental rights and also argued against the decision made by Pakistan’s military court for trying a civilian.
On Pakistan’s earlier objection on India facilitating Jadhav’s 17 times travel on his passport with the cover name Hussein Mubarik Patel, the Indian counsel merely termed it “untrue” without presenting any supporting facts.
Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and South Asia Director General Dr Mohammad Faisal were present in the courtroom as agent and co-agent, respectively.
Following India’s conclusion of arguments, FO said, “India failed to tell the court about Jadhav’s arrival in Pakistan and the reason behind it. India even failed to explain how Jadhav managed to get a passport and travel to Delhi at least 17 times.”
“India also failed in putting up justifiable arguments on Jadhav’s retirement date,” FO added.
FO further said that the neighbouring country also did not furnish any pension details of the spy if he was actually retired from the Indian Navy.
On 8th May 2017, India commenced these proceedings before the ICJ, alleging that Pakistan had committed a breach of the VCCR 1963 by failing to grant immediate consular access in respect of Commander Jadhav, and alleging that the military court procedure was flagrantly unfair. Centrally, the relief India sought was “at least” the acquittal/release/transfer to India of Commander Jadhav. India also demanded by way of provisional measures that the ICJ should immediately make an order (without even having a hearing) that Pakistan should be restrained from executing Commander Jadhav pending the full hearing of India’s claims.
As mentioned above, Pakistan’s civilian courts can and do routinely order a stay of execution pending the full hearing of legal challenges to decisions emanating from Pakistan’s Military Courts – they do so in order to preserve the status quo without making any decision as to the facts or merits. The Pakistani courts have shown themselves capable of acting very quickly (within hours) in this manner in response to an application for a stay of execution. It was therefore not unusual that the ICJ directed a stay of execution on 18th May 2017 pending a full hearing.
In April 2017, the convicted Indian spy filed a mercy petition to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In his plea, Commander Jadhav admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of many precious innocent lives and extensive damage to property due to his actions. Seeking forgiveness for his actions, he requested the COAS to spare his life on compassionate grounds.
Commander Jhadev had earlier appealed to the military appellate court which was rejected. Under the law, he was eligible to appeal for clemency to the COAS (which he had done) and if rejected, subsequently to the president of Pakistan.