NEW DELHI: In a big moral victory for India, the International Court of Justice stayed the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan, on Thursday. Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on April 10 on charges of espionage and subversive activities.
Asserting its jurisdiction over the case, the court backed India’s contention that there has been a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Though India and Pakistan are signatories to the Vienna Convention since 1977, New Delhi’s request for access to Jadhav was denied 16 times.
The court further observed that the existence of a 2008 bilateral agreement between Indian and Pakistan on consular relations did not change its conclusion.
“Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings,” ICJ President Ronny Abraham said while reading out the unanimous verdict of the 11-judge bench. The highest judicial body of the United Nations also instructed Pakistan to inform it of “all measures taken in implementation of present order”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said it did not accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction in matters related to national security.
“The real face of India will be exposed before the world,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said. “Pakistan will present solid evidence against Jadhav.”
India, meanwhile, asserted the ruling is binding on Pakistan, calling it “unanimous” and “unambiguous”.
The Ministry of External Affairs released a statement, saying the government “will do everything possible to save Jadhav”.
“The provisional relief provided by ICJ is the first step in ensuring justice to Jadhav,” said MEA spokesperson Gopal Bagley. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and also appreciated the efforts of India’s counsel Harish Salve.
Though the ICJ’s decisions are binding, the court itself has no powers to ensure implementation of its judgments. Countries that believe the other party has violated ICJ’s ruling can approach the UN Security Council.
But, there is also a precedent of the UNSC failing to act in such situations.