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Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav

  May 27, 2020

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav

How did the Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav episode begin?

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav is an Indian national.  Pakistan government alleged that he was arrested in the Pakistani province of Balochistan on charges of terrorism and spying for India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. The Pakistani government stated that he was a serving commander in the Indian Navy who was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan and was arrested in 2016 during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan. Indian foreign ministry said he had been "kidnapped from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly".

In 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial in Pakistan.

India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asserting that Pakistani authorities were denying India its right of consular access to Jadhav in violation of Vienna Convention.

International Court of Justice stayed the hanging of Jadhav.

On 17 July 2019, the ICJ, in its verdict, directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence. The court observed that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting consular access.

Can the ICJ ruling be interpreted as victory for India?

Yes. For the following reasons:

The ICJ rejected Pakistan’s objections to the admissibility of the application of India with a 15-1 votes. 

First, the ICJ suspended the death penalty awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav by the Pakistani military court. 

Secondly, the ICJ ruled that Pakistan will have to review the entire process of trial and conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav. It directed Pakistan to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in the present proceedings. 

Thirdly, the ICJ noted that Pakistan breached the obligation incumbent upon it under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on consular relations. This means that Pakistan has now to provide India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

What are the basic details about the ICJ?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also referred to as World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). The ICJ's primary functions are to settle international legal disputes submitted by states (contentious cases) and give advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it by the UN (advisory proceedings). Through its opinions and rulings, it serves as a source of international law.

All members of the UN are party to the ICJ Statute.

The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. The court is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, making it the only principal U.N. organ not located in New York City.

Are the rulings of ICJ binding?

The International Court of Justice has jurisdiction in two types of cases:  

1. Cases between states in which the court produces binding rulings between states that agree to submit to the ruling of the court; and

2. Advisory opinions, which are non-binding rulings on questions of international law, usually at the request of the United Nations General Assembly.

What does the Vienna Convention agree on?

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent states. A consul performs two functions: 

(1) Protecting in the host country the interests of their countrymen, and 

(2) Furthering the commercial and economic relations between the two states.

The treaty provides for consular immunity. The treaty has been ratified by 180 states.