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Kulbhushan Jadhav case: ICJ to hear India, Pakistan's claims about former navy officer sentenced to death for espionage

  • Pakistan says that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a spy and had travelled on a passport with a

  • India maintains that he had business interests in Iran after retiring from the Navy

  • India, however, maintains that he was abducted from Iran and taken to Pakistan against his will

India and Pakistan are set for another showdown starting Monday when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague in Netherlands begins oral proceedings in the high-profile Kulbhushan Jadhav case for the next four days. The hearings at the ICJ has come only four days after at least 40 CRPF soldiers were killed by Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on 14 February and India subsequently hiking customs duty to 200 percent on all goods imported from Pakistan, following revocation of the Most Favoured Nation status. So, what is Jadhav's case all about and what each nation has contended till now:

 Kulbhushan Jadhav case: ICJ to hear India, Pakistans claims about former navy officer sentenced to death for espionage

File image of Kulbhushan Jadhav. News18

India versus Pakistan's claims

Jadhav, a 48-year-old former Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, 2017. According to Pakistani forces, he was apprehended on 3 March, 2016 from restive Balochistan province after he reportedly entered from Iran. India, however, maintains that he was abducted from Iran and taken to Pakistan against his will.

Pakistan says that he is a spy and had travelled on a passport with a "Muslim name", India maintains that he had business interests in Iran after retiring from the Navy because of which he would frequently travel there.

Pakistan also said that India has failed to explain how a "serving naval commander" was travelling under an assumed name, making it obvious that he was a spy sent on a "special mission". However, India has consistently maintained that he was kidnapped from Iran.

India took on Pakistan to the world court by stating Islamabad's "egregious" violation of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, by denying consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan, on the other hand, countered by saying that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in a case that involves an espionage accused. It also said that both nations, according to a bilateral agreement, can deny access to people caught for spying. According to a report in the India Today, on bilateral treaties, only a treaty registered with the United Nations by both parties can be used before a UN organ. This bilateral agreement was not registered with the UN and therefore no UN organ can admit this treaty.

Jadhav's sentencing had evoked a sharp reaction in India which moved the ICJ in May 2017 against the verdict. A 10-member bench of the ICJ on 18 May, 2017, had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.

Pakistan, however, facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on 25 December, 2017. In pictures released by Pakistan, Jadhav could be seen sitting behind a glass screen while his mother and wife sat on the other side. India, later accused Pakistan of disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities when the latter asked his family members to remove mangalsutra, bangles and bindi before they could meet him on the pretext of security.

Former solicitor general Harish Salve will represent India while Pakistan will be represented by Barrister Khawar Qureshi at the ICJ. While India will argue first on 18 February, Pakistan will make its submissions on 19 February. New Delhi will reply on 20 February and Islamabad will make its closing submissions on 21 February. The decision of the ICJ is expected to be announced by the summer of 2019.

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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2019 12:18:22 IST