In the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, the International Court of Justice is going to deliver its verdict today. It is likely to be a life-altering turn of events in the three-year-old case of this captured former Indian Naval officer. Pakistan has alleged that he is a spy and terrorist.
There are reports which suggest that while India would be happy if it is able to save Jadhav from the gallows, it is highly likely that he will end up spending the rest of his life in a Pakistani prison much like his fellow Indians who were caught in Pakistan earlier for alleged spying. It is notable that Sarabjit Singh died in a Pakistani jail after 25 years despite the valiant efforts of his family and previous Indian governments. Ravindra Kaushik even managed to breach the ranks of the Pakistan Army, but he was caught and died in a Pakistani jail after 16 years. Unfortunately for Jadhav, history doesn’t give him much hope.
It is worth mentioning that India had moved the ICJ in 2017 after a Pakistani military court awarded the death sentence to Jadhav. India had made two prayers in its petition before the ICJ. One, suspend the death sentence by way of immediate relief as Pakistan had violated provisions of the Vienna convention and two, declare the sentence of the military court as null and void as such courts are not recognised as legal entities as per international laws of jurisprudence.
This second prayer, to annul the sentence delivered by a domestic court of any one of the member countries — howsoever flawed it may have been — is tricky territory that the ICJ may want to stay out of. Territorial integrity and sovereignty of member countries goes beyond the remit of the international court and will indeed open a Pandora’s Box if the court were to tread that dangerous path.
The best case scenario that India can hope for is that the ICJ strikes down the death sentence given to Jadhav on humanitarian grounds and ensures that he lives on. But there is little chance that Jadhav will be freed from a Pakistani jail and returned to India’s custody.
India in its plea had also argued how Pakistan had violated the Vienna convention by denying consular access to one of its nationals despite close to a 100 such attempts made by India. Consular access is a basic tenet of the Vienna convention. Not only did Pakistan deny Jadhav this, but the way the Pakistan Army and other officials treated his wife and mother when they visited him in December 2017 does not show the failing state in good light.
Timeline of the case:
March 3, 2016: Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested.
March 24, 2016: Pakistan security forces claim Jadhav, “an Indian spy” arrested from southern Balochistan.
March 25, 2016: First reports of Jadhav arrest emerge, Pakistan summons envoy on ‘spy’ arrest, India rejects claims.
March 26, 2016: India claims there is no proof that Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, who owns a cargo business in Iran, was arrested in Balochistan as claimed by Pakistan.
March 29, 2016: New Delhi seeks from Islamabad consular access to Jadhav. Over the next one year, India made 16 such requests which were denied by Pakistan.
April 10, 2017: A Pakistani Army court sentences Jadhav to death “for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan”. India warns Islamabad that it is a case of “premeditated murder”.
April 11, 2017: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a statement in both the Houses of Parliament, asserting that India will go “out of way” to ensure justice to Jadhav who is an “innocent kidnapped Indian”.
April 12, 2016: According to a media report, Jadhav was charged with terrorism and sabotage in an FIR filed against him by the provincial Balochistan government.
April 14, 2017: India demands from Pakistan a certified copy of the chargesheet as well as the judgement in the death sentence of Jadhav and seeks consular access to him.
April 15, 2016: Pakistan briefs envoys of the Arab and ASEAN countries over India-Pakistan ties and the arrest of an alleged Indian spy. It had earlier made a similar briefing to envoys of the P5 (the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China and France).
April 20, 2017: India officially seeks from Pakistan details of the trial proceedings against Jadhav as well as the appeal process in the case.
April 27, 2017: Swaraj writes to Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz requesting visa for Jadhav’s family.
May 8, 2017: India approaches the International Court of Justice at The Hague against Pakistan military courts decision.
May 9, 2017: ICJ stays Jadhav’s execution.
May 10, 2017: India approached ICJ as Jadhav is in illegal detention, says MEA.
May 15, 2017: India and Pakistan cross swords at the ICJ over Jadhav’s case with New Delhi demanding the immediate suspension of his death sentence and Islamabad accusing it of using the world body as a stage for “political theatre” through a “misconceived” plea.
May 18, 2017: ICJ tells Pakistan to put Jadhav’s execution on hold pending its final order. Noted lawyer Harish Salve represents India. Pakistan says ICJ ruling won’t change status of Jadhav case.
May 29, 2017: Pakistan claims it has fresh evidence against Jadhav. Foreign Office says Jadhav provided “active intelligence” regarding terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
June 16, 2017: ICJ asks India to make its submission in the case by September 13; Pakistan told to complete its submission by December 13. Timelines decided at the June 8 meeting ICJ President Ronny Abraham had with agents of the two countries, MEA spokesperson says. But Pakistan says ICJ rejected India’s request to delay Jadhav’s case.
June 22, 2017: Jadhav files mercy petition before Pakistani military chief; Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said Mr. Jadhav had filed the mercy plea with a confessional statement that he was involved in subversive activities in Balochistan.
July 2, 2017: Pakistan rejects yet again India’s request for consular access to Jadhav; Pakistan has turned down at least five Indian requests for consular access to Jadhav since his arrest.
July 13, 2017: Visa application of Jadhav’s mother being studied, says Pakistan Foreign Office.
September 13, 2017: India submits written pleadings in Jadhav’s case.
September 28, 2017: Proposal made to swap Jadhav for terrorist, says Pakistan Foreign Minister.
September 29, 2017: India rubbishes Pakistan claim on swapping Jadhav for jailed terrorist.
November 10, 2017: Pakistan offers a meeting of Jadhav with his wife on humanitarian grounds.
November 23, 2017: Can Pakistan ensure safety of Jadhav kin, asks India.
December 8, 2017: Pakistan allows Jadhav’s wife, mother to meet him on December 25.
December 13, 2017: Pakistan files counter in ICJ.
December 14, 2017: Pakistan directs its High Commission in Delhi to issue visas to Jadhav’s family.
December 20, 2017: Pakistan issues visas to Jadhav’s wife and mother.
December 25, 2017: Jadhav meets his mother, wife; meeting a humanitarian gesture, says Pakistan
July 17, 2018: Pakistan files second counter-memorial in ICJ
October 3, 2018: ICJ to hold four-day public hearing in Jadhav case from February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019: ICJ begins four-day public hearing in Jadhav case
July 4, 2019: ICJ to deliver verdict in Jadhav case on July 17