Hague to hear India’s Kulbhushan Jadhav plea next week

11 May 2017


The International Court of Justice is expected to hear on Monday India's plea against the death sentence awarded to its national Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadav by a military court in Pakistan, noted lawyer Harish Salve said on Wednesday.

Salve will be representing India at the ICJ in The Hague. He said ''India has taken a calibrated decision'' on approaching the international court, and will wait to see Pakistan's legal response.

''We are told to be there on Monday. We may have a hearing on Monday or a scheduling on Monday. We needed immediate relief. Whenever Pakistan is willing to be engaged we are ready,'' Salve said.

Salve also said that consular access to Jadhav is a right of India and the Indian national.

''There is a standalone obligation for consular access, which is not just the right of the state but also the right of the accused – and that basically means that right from the time you are arrested in the foreign country you have the benefit of consular access,'' Salve told a TV channel.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan army said it will respond at an "appropriate level" to any query by the ICJ on the death sentence to Jadhav on charges of spying.

The ICJ on Tuesday stayed the death sentence awarded to Jadhav after India instituted proceedings against Pakistan at the court accusing Islamabad of "egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" in the detention and trial of Jadhav (See: International Court stays Pak's order to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav).

In a statement, the ICJ said, ''On 8 May 2017, the Republic of India instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, accusing the latter of egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations … in the matter of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan. The Applicant contends that it was not informed of Jadhav's detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights.''

Under Article 74, paragraph 4 of the ICJ rules, which says ''pending the meeting of the Court, the President may call upon the parties to act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects'', ICJ President Justice Ronny Abraham has written to Pakistan seeking suspension of the sentence.

India had moved the court on Monday seeking a set of reliefs including ''by way of suspension of the sentence of death awarded to the accused'', and ''restraining Pakistan from giving effect to the sentence awarded by the military court''.

It had also sought the sentence of the military court be declared violating international law as it was ''arrived at in brazen defiance of Vienna Convention rights'' as well as the rights of the accused.

Pakistan army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told the media that Jadhav was sentenced by a military court after "due process of law".

"If the ICJ requests Pakistan anything about Jadhav, then the government of Pakistan will respond to it at an appropriate level,'' he said.

He said "the process is continuing within the army over the decision by the (military) court against Jadhav''. He did not elaborate.

The statement came after Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed the ICJ's stay order on the execution of Jadhav.

Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif in a tweet accused India of using Jadhav's death conviction to "divert" attention from its "state-sponsored" terrorism in the country.

"Indian letter to ICJ attempt to divert attention from state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Kulbhushan convicted of offences against national security," Asif tweeted.

The order by the ICJ came a day after India approached it against the death sentence handed down to Jadhav by Pakistan's Field General Court Martial last month.

India has warned Pakistan of consequences and damage to bilateral ties if the "pre-meditated murder" was carried out.

In its application, India had also informed the ICJ that it learnt about the death sentence against Jadhav from a press release.

Jadhav was sentenced to death for "espionage and subversive activities".

India acknowledges that Jadhav had served with the Indian Navy, in the past, and denied that he has any connection with the government any longer. It also said that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran.

India has also handed over to Pakistan an appeal by Jadhav's mother to get his conviction overturned.

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