India-Pak face off over Kulbhushan Jadhav case at ICJ amid Pulwama tension
Coming soon after a terror incident in South Kashmir’s Pulwama, where at least 40 security personnel lost their lives in a suicide attack apparently by Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, the hearing on Jadhav case could stoke fresh tension between the two countries.Updated: Feb 18, 2019 09:59 IST
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) commences oral hearing on Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, 48, on Monday at The Hague. India is likely to ask the top UN court to direct Pakistan to revoke the death sentence awarded to Jadhav on allegations of espionage.
Coming soon after a terror incident in South Kashmir’s Pulwama, where at least 40 security personnel lost their lives in a suicide attack apparently by Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, the hearing on Jadhav case could stoke fresh tension between the two countries.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar refused to make any comment on the ICJ hearing in Kulbhushan Jadhav case but hinted that Indian side is prepared for the legal battle.
“Since the matter is sub-judice it is not appropriate for me to state our position in public. Whatever we have to do, we will do at the court,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying in New Delhi on Thursday, the day when terrorists attacked the Central Reserve Police Force convoy carrying more than 2,500 jawans in 78 vehicles.
Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack, which prompted India to revoke most favoured nation MFN) status to that country. India had granted the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. It also moved to isolate Pakistan globally with an aggressive diplomatic outreach to more than 25 countries including P5 - the US, the UK, France, Russia and China.
A Pakistani military court sentenced Jadhav, in a closed hearing, to death in April 2017 on charges of spying and terrorism. Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was arrested from its restive province Baluchistan in March 2016.
India rejected the claim saying that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran. A former navy officer, Jadhav, India has maintained, had gone to Iran on a business trip. India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by refusing consular access to Jadhav.
Pakistan also released a video of Jadhav presenting it as his confessional statement to prove that he was a spy and had entered the country on an espionage mission. India rejected the confessional video saying it was recorded under extreme duress.
Following his conviction, India moved the ICJ seeking a stay on the death sentence awarded to Jadhav by the military court of Pakistan. In May 2017, the ICJ ordered stay on execution of the death sentence till final adjudication of the case at the UN top court.
The ICJ has set a four-day hearing schedule beginning Monday for the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Harish Salve, who is representing India, is likely to begin argument on the first day.
Pakistan will present its arguments at the ICJ on February 19. India will reply to Pakistan’s argument on February 20. Pakistan will make its closing submission on February 21. The ICJ is expected to deliver its judgment in summers this year.
Jadhav’s case is the first instance when India and Pakistan are fighting a legal battle in the ICJ. The last time, the countries faced each other in the UN court in 1999, when a Pakistani navy plane was shot down by the Indian forces. All 16 members onboard were killed.
Pakistan alleged Pakistani navy plane was within its air space. India rejected the claim and said that when intercepted, the pilot did not respond in accordance with international protocol, and behaved in a hostile manner.
The ICJ had ruled on Pakistan’s complaint that it was not the competent authority to adjudicate the dispute and the closed the case.
First Published: Feb 18, 2019 07:33 IST