India-Pakistan Ties

Kulbhushan Jadhav: How India notched up an international victory over Pakistan

India has often shied away from going to multilateral forums, but in this case its bold decision has paid off.

The International Court of Justice’s decision ordering Pakistan not to execute Khulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who had been sentenced to death for espionage by a Pakistani military court, does not just come as a relief for the Jadhav’s family. It is also a vindication of the Indian government’s unusual step in taking the matter to an international forum.

New Delhi tends to keep away from the international stage when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. This is borne out of the belief that any attempt to internationalise the India-Pakistan dispute will build a false equivalence between the two countries, and allow Islamabad to draw strength by grandstanding as well appealing to powerful allies, like China, who would be equally happy to check India’s influence.

As a result, India almost always insists that matters between it and Pakistan are bilateral issues that will be dealt with directly, without the intervention of third parties. Under no circumstances does India want matters such as Kashmir to be the subject of international peace-making efforts, in the manner of the Palestine dispute.

Bilateral matters

This approach is important for one other reason: Staying away from international scrutiny saves India from having to answer embarrassing questions about its own internal record in places such as Kashmir or the North East. It also follows the simple foreign policy logic that the larger, more powerful neighbour will be able to get a better deal if no other party is at the table.

When Pakistan announced that it had caught Jadhav and released an evidently manipulated video that it claimed was a confession, India immediate denied the allegations and demanded consular access. Over the months that followed, New Delhi continued to ask for consular access to Jadhav, who was languishing in Pakistani jails, without any response. But India did not, at this point, make any suggestion that it would take the case to an international forum.

Even after Pakistan announced that it had sentenced Jadhav to death for espionage, after a secret military trial, India’s first response was to summon Pakistan’s High Commissioner and declare that the trial was farcical. Even then it was not evident that India would take the case to the International Court of Justice.

This is especially relevant because of India’s history at the court. The last time India had itself applied to the ICJ to intervene in a case involving Pakistan, in 1971, the court dismissed New Delhi’s claims. Since then, Pakistan has attempted to take matters to the ICJ on two occasions, but in both cases no hearing actually took place.

Vienna Convention

The difference in this case appears to be the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations’ Optional Protocol, one of those rare international treaties that both India and Pakistan are party to. The Protocol says the ICJ would have jurisdiction over disputes concerning consular relations, unless the countries have agreed to another forum to resolve disagreements. Pakistan claimed that India did indeed come to an agreement in 2008, under which the countries decided that, in cases related to national security, questions of consular access would be decided on a case by case basis internally.

The Court however decided that there were three reasons this 2008 agreement did not prevent it from having jurisdiction in the case:

  • The 2008 agreement had not been registered as a treaty in the United Nations secretariat, and so could not be invoked.
  • The Vienna Convention does not prevent countries from signing treaties that amplify the safeguards in the convention, but
  • It does prevent countries from diluting its safeguards through subsequent treaties.

India’s case

India’s constant requests for consular access to Jadhav also plaed a part in the court’s decision-making. To be convinced that it has jurisdiction in a case like this, the ICJ has to establish that there is a genuine dispute regarding consular access and that this is within the scope of the treaty that applies here.

The order, according to the ICJ press release, relied on the 16 Notes Verbales that India sent to Pakistan demanding consular access to establish proof of the dispute. The fact that Pakistan had labelled Jadhav an Indian citizen, and yet admitted that he could still follow the local legal provisions, such as appealing to higher courts within Pakistan or asking for clemency, further convinced the court that India had rights to demand consular access.

India’s case was additionally aided by the sentence Pakistan gave to Jadhav. Although technically India might have been able to make the same case for consular access even if Pakistan’s military court had not sentenced Jadhav to death, the ICJ may not have treated the case with the same urgency. The ICJ felt empowered enough to give orders to Pakistan in part because Islamabad refused to give assurances that it would not hang him while the case was still ongoing. Now Pakistan has been clearly told that it must ensure his safety until the ICJ concludes its hearing in the matter.


It is important to remember that this is only a preliminary decision, and that too primarily on the question of jurisdiction. The court has concluded that it has prima facie jurisdiction on the case. It will now hear complete arguments as to whether Pakistan was guilty of denying Jadhav has consular rights, and Islamabad has insisted that its case has not changed in any manner, and asked for the hearing to take place as soon as possible.

Yet even if it is just the first step, the chances of an Indian victory on the international stage was by no means a given, especially given India’s past record at this court. Thursday’s decision vindicates New Delhi’s bold choice to take what would have otherwise been a bilateral disagreement to an international forum.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.