Will ICJ stop Pak from hanging Kulbhushan Jadhav for now? Verdict at 3:30pm
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Will ICJ stop Pak from hanging Kulbhushan Jadhav for now? Verdict at 3:30pm

Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on espionage charges. UN court to announce ruling on India’s plea for stay today

india Updated: May 18, 2017 14:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Kulbhushan Jadhav,International Court of Justice,Pakistani military court
Journalists watch a video showing Indian national Kulbhushan Yadav during a press conference in Islamabad.(AFP File)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected on Thursday to decide on India’s plea to restrain Pakistan from executing its citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Navy officer sentenced to death for alleged espionage.

India challenged Jadhav’s sentence last week, basing its arguments around what it says have been violations of the Vienna Convention’s rules on giving countries access to their citizens accused of crime on a foreign soil.

The verdict will be announced at 3:30 pm Indian time, three days after the United Nations’ highest court in The Hague heard arguments from the two sides on Monday.

The broader challenge to the Pakistani sentence, which India has opposed citing issues such as it being handed out by a military court instead of a civilian one, is likely to take months or years to resolve. So India asked the ICJ to immediately order Pakistan to “take all measures necessary” to prevent Jadhav’s execution pending the final outcome.

The court’s president has written to Pakistan urging it to take no action that could affect the hearings — effectively a request to prevent the death sentence being carried out.

“A public sitting will take place at 12 noon at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the Court, will read the court’s decision,” a brief statement posted on the ICJ’s website said.

Should the court order a formal stay, it will signify the court give more weight to India’s fears. Pakistan argued against any emergency orders being passed at the moment, saying there was no date set for the execution and Jadhav has at least 150 days before he exhausted options for an appeal under the country’s domestic laws.

Pakistan says Jadhav, 46, was arrested in March last year in the restive Balochistan province. In April, a military court sentenced him to death for alleged involvement in spying and subversive activities. India has contended he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar and his secret trial was a “farce”.

At the conclusion of the hearing on Monday, India also asked the ICJ to direct the Pakistani government to report to the court about the action it has taken to stay Jadhav’s execution and to “ensure that no action is taken that might prejudice the rights of (India or Jadhav) with respect to any decision the court may render on the merits of the case”.

Pakistan, which argued that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction in Jadhav’s case, asked the court “to reject India’s request for the indication of provisional measures”, or a stay of the execution.

During the hearing, India’s lead attorney, former solicitor general Harish Salve said the country feared Jadhav could be executed even as his case was being heard by the ICJ. Pakistan, on the other hand, said there was “no urgency” in the matter.

India approached the ICJ on May 8 and accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by persistently denying consular access to Jadhav and conducting a “farcical trial” without a “shred of evidence”.

Pakistan claimed the Vienna Convention did not apply to a “spy” involved in terror activities and said India was using the world court as a stage for “political theatre”.

The two countries last faced off at the ICJ in 1999, when Pakistan approached the court over the shooting down by India of an Atlantique surveillance aircraft that killed 16 people. India had then used its declaration of 1974, which states the UN court would have no jurisdiction in disputes between Commonwealth states, to successfully argue that it could not take up the Atlantique case.

First Published: May 17, 2017 18:00 IST