ICJ begins public hearing of Jadhav’s case in The Hague

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) began conducting a public hearing on Monday in the case pertaining to the conviction of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) last month.

The UN’s judicial body heard India’s observations in the first phase of the proceedings, which are being conducted at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

As the proceedings began, India appealed to the UN’s top court to order Pakistan to suspend its planned execution of Jadhav, saying his rights had been violated by Islamabad.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, leading the Indian legal team, focused his arguments on Pakistan’s denial of consular access to Jadhav as he presented India’s position before the judicial body.

“The situation in which we find ourselves is grave and it is urgent,” Salve said. “India has made innumerable requests since March 2016 for consular access.”

The hearing focused on India’s request for so-called “provisional measures” that can be granted at short notice to ensure a dispute between states does not deteriorate during full ICJ proceedings, which typically take several years.

Earlier, Deepak Mittal, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, told judges at the ICJ that Jadhav’s death sentence was handed down following a “farcical” trial.

Jadhav was “an innocent Indian national, who, incarcerated in Pakistan for more than a year on concocted charges, deprived of his rights and protection accorded under the Vienna Convention, has been held incommunicado… and faces imminent execution,” Mittal told the tribunal.

Pakistan has failed to respond to all Indian demands for information about the case, snubbing requests for documents including the charge sheet, and has failed to provide Jadhav with consular access, Mittal said.

The ICJ will hear Pakistan’s observations in the second phase of Monday’s hearing.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausuf will be present for the hearing via a video link.

Ambassador Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Director General (South Asia and Saarc) Dr Muhammad Faisal and counsellor Syed Faraz Hussain are present at the Peace Palace as members of Pakistan’s legal team.

Supreme Court lawyers Khawar Qureshi, Asad Raheem Khan and Joseph Decky are also present for the proceedings in The Hague.

After deliberation, Pakistan decided last week to forcefully pursue the Jadhav case. Pakistan’s arguments are expected to focus on refuting all allegations levelled against it and also pointing out atrocities India was getting away with committing in India-held Kashmir.

The hearing is being conducted days after India filed an application with the UN’s judicial body seeking the suspension of the Jadhav’s death sentence.

In its application filed with the ICJ, India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, stating that Pakistan has repeatedly denied consular access to Jadhav.

India also alleged that “it was not informed of Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest,” and learned about the death sentence through the media.

After India moved the international court, the ICJ asked the government of Pakistan to stay the execution of Jadhav.

Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, through a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan’s Mashkel area for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan. He was sentenced to death by the FGCM in April this year.

India had termed the death sentence awarded to Jadhav “an act of premeditated murder,” while maintaining that Jadhav was a retired officer of the Indian Navy.

India has further claimed that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in a business undertaking.

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