ICJ rejects India’s plea for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s acquittal

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THE HAGUE:  The International Court of Justice has announced its verdict, directing Pakistan to give consular access to convicted Indian agent Kulbhushan Jadhav and provide effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences.

The verdict which was read out at a public sitting of the United Nations court, was 15 to one in favour of India.

The Court has also said that Jadhav’s death sentence should remain suspended until Pakistan effectively reviews and reconsiders the conviction/sentence in light of Pakistan’s breach of Art 36(1) i.e. denial of consular access and notification.

The Hague-based UN, however, rejected most of the remedies sought by India, including annulment of military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.

Kulbhushan Jadhav is an spy who was sentenced to death in 2017 by a Pakistani military court on charges of terrorism and spying. He was arrested in 2016 after entering Pakistan from Iran on forged travel documents.

India denied allegations that Kulbhushan Jadhav was a spy, saying he was a businessman working on Iran’s Chahbahar port.

New Deli had accused Pakistan of violating international law by not granting New Delhi consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The Indian government moved the International Court of Justice, which put a stay on Jadhav’s execution and heard the matter in full.

Reacting to the verdict, Michael Kugelman, a South Asian expert, said that both sides could claim victory.

“The verdict is in. Not surprisingly, it allows both sides to claim victory. The ICJ says #India has the right to consular access, but it does not side with India’s request that Pak mil court decision be annulled and Jadhav be released,” Kugelman tweeted.

“That said, while both sides can declare victory, in the end this is a major triumph for India, given the centrality of the consular access issue in India’s claim that it brought to the ICJ. Also, ruling that the death sentence should remain suspended is huge.”

Senior Pakistan media commentator Mosharraf Zaidi was of the view that India had gained nothing of substance in the case.

“Winning this moral victory has come at a cost. India has wasted political capital & gained nothing of substance in this process. India’s leaders should be embarrassed by the outcome,” Zaidi tweeted.