The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday announced its verdict on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”.
The ICJ, however, rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistan from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav’s release and ordering his return to India.
Accompanied by English Queens counsel Barrister Khawar Qureshi, a 13-member Pakistani delegation, led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor along with the Foreign Office’s Director General South Asia Dr Mohammad Faisal and comprising officials of the ministries of law and foreign affairs, was present in the courtroom.
Pakistan’s team, headed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, had reached The Hague earlier in the day to hear the verdict. The team also included Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal.
he ICJ said that even though it had found Pakistan in violation of Article 36 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), “it is not the conviction and sentence of Mr. Jadhav which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”
The most the ICJ said it could do was to order Pakistan to cease violation of Article 36 and review the case in light of how that violation may have affected the case’s outcome.
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention simply states that when a national of a foreign country is arrested, they must be informed of the right to have their country’s consulate notified and should also have the right to regular consultation with their consulate’s officials during their detention and trial.
Pakistan had argued that Article 36 is not applicable to persons believed to be involved in espionage.
“The Court notes that Pakistan acknowledges that the appropriate remedy in the present case would be effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence,” it observed.
To this end, Pakistan was directed to immediately inform Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, grant India consular access, and then review the case while considering, under the laws of Pakistan, how not doing so earlier may have impacted the case’s outcome.
“The Court considers that the violation of the rights set forth in Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention, and its implications for the principles of a fair trial, should be fully examined and properly addressed during the review and reconsideration process,” the court directed.
“In particular, any potential prejudice and the implications for the evidence and the right of defence of the accused should receive close scrutiny during the review and reconsideration,” it said.
“The Court notes that the obligation to provide effective review and reconsideration can be carried out in various ways. The choice of means is left to Pakistan,” it added. However, it stressed that, “Pakistan shall take all measures to provide for effective review and reconsideration, including, if necessary, by enacting appropriate legislation.”
While that matter is decided, Pakistan has been directed to suspend the execution of the death penalty awarded to Jadhav.