After ICJ verdict, India calls for Jadhav release
India on Thursday called on Pakistan to immediately release Kulbhushan Jadhav, on death row following his conviction on charges of espionage, in view of the International Court of Justice’s ruling, asking for a review of the former naval officer’s sentence.
The Hague-based top court of the United Nations declared on Wednesday that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and called for an effective review and reconsideration of the death sentence given to him by a military court.
In a statement made in both houses of Parliament, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said Jadhav was innocent of the charges levelled against him and a forced confession without legal representation and due process wouldn’t change this fact.
“We, once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith... I can assure that the government will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Shri Jadhav’s safety and well-being as well as his early return to India,” he said.
Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death about a year after he was arrested in Balochistan in March 2016 on charges of involvement in spying and subversive activities. After India petitioned the ICJ in May 2017, the court directed Pakistan to stay Jadhav’s execution.
In its ruling on Wednesday, the ICJ said the continued stay of Jadhav’s execution was an “indispensible condition” for the review of his conviction at a forum of Pakistan’s choice.
Pakistani officials have said they will proceed according to the country’s laws. Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted on Thursday: “Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release & return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law.”
Jaishankar said Jadhav continued to be in Pakistan’s “illegal custody” after being sentenced to death sentence on “fabricated charges”. The ICJ’s judgment is a vindication for India, Jadhav and all who believe in rule of law, he added.
Noting that the ICJ had made it clear its judgment is “final, binding and without appeal”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a news briefing: “We expect Pakistan to implement the directive immediately without any further delay.”
The verdict went in India’s favour on eight points cited by the ICJ, either through a unanimous decision or majority decisions by the 16-judge bench, he said. These points include the jurisdiction of the ICJ, the admissibility of India’s petition and the violation of Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention.
Kumar said Pakistan must now grant consular access to Jadhav and conduct an effective review of his case.
Asked about claims in Pakistan that the verdict had gone in Islamabad’s favour, he said, “It seems to me they are reading from a completely different verdict. Each and every point was ruled in favour of India and there is no confusion. I think they have their own compulsions as to why they have to lie to their own people.”