The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague today stayed the execution of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan till it takes a final decision on the matter, handing a big diplomatic win for India.
Pronouncing the World Court's verdict, ICJ Judge Ronny Abraham of France said Pakistan should have given India consular access to its national Jhadav as per Vienna Convention.
Pakistani authorities arrested Jhadav allegedly from the Iran border, in March, and a Pakistani military court last month awarded him death sentence for espionage and subversive activities.
India moved the ICJ on 8 May against Pakistan for refusing consular access to Jadhav and for violating the Vienna Convention on consular relations.
Asserting its jurisdiction in the Jhadav case, ICJ president Ronny Abraham said the circumstances of his arrest remain disputed.
Hailing the verdict, India's Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said it is a victory for India's stand. He added that the ICJ verdict had shown that the military court trial by Pakistan was a 'charade', and that the neighbour had been completely 'blown away' by it.
Rohatgi said that he hoped that the final verdict, which would be announced in August, would also be in India's favour.
Responding to a question, Rohatgi asserted that the ICJ's interim verdict on Thursday was binding on both India and Pakistan.
The 11-judge bench of the UN's highest court presented its verdict two days after India and Pakistan gave their submissions on the 46-year-old former Indian naval officer.
The ICJ said the mere fact that he may be executed is sufficient to demonstrate that there is a risk of irreparable damage and directed Pakistan to take all appropriate measures at its disposal to ensure Jadhav is not executed pending final decision.
While India asserted that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the Indian Navy, Pakistan had claimed to have arrested Jadhav from its restive Balochistan province.
On its part, Pakistan had told the ICJ that Vienna Convention provisions on consular access were not intended for a "spy" involved in terror activities and charged India with using the world body as a stage for "political theatre" in the Jadhav case.
It is after 18 years that the two neighbours were fighting it out at the ICJ. Last time, Pakistan had moved the ICJ seeking its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft.