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Kulbhushan Jadhav is an Indian name that has been in vogue in the international arena for about 3 years now. International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced its verdict on the Jadhav case today (17th July) in India’s favour. This event raises several questions in our minds like what is the background of this issue? What does the judgement mean? Is Jadhav safe now? This post is an attempt to address these doubts.
Where, how and when did it all start?
Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former officer of the Indian navy. In March 2016, he was arrested by Pakistani agencies which accused him of being “an Indian spy”. They formally informed India about the arrest a few days later. Acting according to international customs, India demanded consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan denied 16 such requests.
Consular access, in essence, means the ability of people to have access to embassy officials of their own country in a foreign nation. The Veinna Convention of 1963 (of which Pakistan is a signatory) allows foreign nationals who are arrested or detained in host countries to have such access. This enables the arrested persons to get legal assistance. By denying the same, Pakistan violated International Law.
Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan, Pakistan. However, India has firmly maintained that he was detained in Iran while on a personal business there. Fast forward to April 2017, a Pakistani military court conducted his trial in ambiguous circumstances and sentenced him to death. Jadhav was found guilty of espionage (gathering confidential information through illicit means) and sabotage (interfering with the national defence of a country).
What steps did India take to protect its citizen?
India approached ICJ promptly in May 2017 and denied Pakistani claims about Jadhav being a spy. India termed it an “imaginary lie” and asked ICJ to issue an order to Pakistan to release Jadhav. The main argument was that Pakistan denied consular access to Jadhav during his trial and awarded him a death sentence.
India demanded that Pakistan should not be allowed to try Jadhav again even after granting consular access because Pakistani military courts “do not satisfy the standards of due process”. In response to these submissions, Pakistan stated that “Vienna Convention does not apply to spies”. ICJ evaluated all such arguments and gave its judgement in favour of India, which we shall now discuss.
What is the verdict of ICJ?
Salient features of the judgement are:
- There will be review and reconsideration of death sentence awarded to Jadhav by the military court.
- India will have consular access to Jadhav. It means that he can be provided with legal assistance.
- Jadhav won’t be released, but he will get a fair trail as per the constitution of Pakistan.
What is the probable future for Jadhav?
It is clear that Jadhav won’t be released by Pakistan any time soon. However, it is a great relief that ICJ has directed Pakistan to suspend and review his death sentence. He will also get legal assistance from India which means that he has a greater chance of coming home now than earlier.
Renowned Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who fought the tough legal battle for India at ICJ, has stated that Jadhav will be informed about his legal rights. Salve also assured Indians that Jadhav won’t be executed. These developments are definitely a ray of hope for India and we are confident that justice will prevail.