At ICJ trial, India to focus on denial of consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav
Kulbhashan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017 after a secret trial.Updated: Feb 09, 2019 15:20 IST
India is expected to focus on the violation of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the denial of a fair trial when his case comes up at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) during February 18-21, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, stayed Jadhav’s execution in a unanimous order in May 2017 after it was approached by New Delhi, and India and Pakistan submitted several “memorials” or written pleadings last year.
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017 after a secret trial.
He was charged with alleged involvement in espionage and subversive activities after Pakistani authorities said he was arrested in Balochistan in March 2016.
India has denied these charges and accused Pakistani operatives of kidnapping Jadhav, 48, from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business.
India has said he was denied a fair trial and an opportunity to defend himself.
“In the initial phase at ICJ, our focus was on interim arrangements for justice and the fear that he could be executed. ICJ put off the execution pending a final decision in the case because it found there were sufficient grounds in India’s submission,” said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
When the case comes up for public oral hearings at ICJ, the Indian side will focus on the denial of consular access to Jadhav, which New Delhi contends is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, and the denial of a fair trial with access to proper legal representation, the people quoted above said.
During public hearings from February 18 to 21, India and Pakistan will be allowed to make two rounds of oral arguments each over the four days.
Pakistan has rejected India’s repeated demands for consular access to Jadhav, claiming that he an spy and that the Vienna Convention didn’t apply to him.
Sanjay Hegde, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India, said if ICJ makes a declaration in India’s favour, it would be up to Pakistan to again conduct Jadhav’s trial. “The problem is there is no enforcement mechanism for ICJ judgements though states are expected to comply with them,” he said.