While India has reasons to celebrate the International Court of Justice’s request to Pakistan to stay the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, it is a bit too early to break out the champagne. New Delhi’s request to the ICJ, the judicial arm of the UN apparently followed apprehensions that Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court April 10 for spying was likely to be executed soon.
Following the request, ICJ president and judge Ronny Abraham of France reportedly sent a message to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that “In my capacity as president of the court ... I call upon Your Excellency’s Government, pending the court’s decision on [India’s] request for the indication of provisional measures, to act in such a way as will enable any order the court may make on this request to have its appropriate effects.” In other words, don’t execute Jadhav until the court comes to a decision.
While Pakistan insists Jadhav was caught in Balochistan with fake passports and had confessed that he was spying for India, India's submission is Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran, where he was involved in business after retiring from the Navy. India said “it was not informed of Mr. Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest, and that in violation of the Vienna Convention”, Pakistan was denying India its right of consular access to Jadhav.
Some skeptics have raised doubts over the jurisdiction of the ICJ in this dispute, noting that both India and Pakistan had added clauses in the treaty denying the ICJ jurisdiction in “disputes with the government of any State which is or has been a Member of the Commonwealth of Nations as well as disputes relating to ... situations of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective actions taken in self-defence.” Whatever the case may be, India has managed to get some breathing space. But in the process, it has also diluted its position on all India-Pakistan disputes being bilateral in nature. And that could open up another can of worms.