The International Court of Justice will announce its verdict regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav’s later on Thursday. The verdict is expected at 3.30 pm IST. On Monday, May 15, the Hague had heard India and Pakistan’s arguments on the death sentence given to the former Navy officer. When the hearing had concluded, the court said it would announce its verdict “as soon as possible”.
Jadhav had been sentenced to death in April for allegedly spying on Pakistan for India. However, India has maintained he is an ex-Navy officer.
Here is how the case has unfolded so far:
- March 3, 2016: Jadhav was arrested by Pakistani officials. He was accused of spying for the Research and Analysis Wing and aiding separatist elements in restive Balochistan. While the Pakistan Army said Jadhav was arrested in Saravan, on the Iran-Pakistan border, Baloch leader Sarfaraz Bugti said he was picked up from Chaman in Balochistan. But India said that he was kidnapped by Pakistani forces while in Iran on a business engagement. New Delhi said Jadhav has no links with the government and retired from the Navy in 2002. India was then denied consular access to Jadhav, in the first of several such rebuffs.
- March 29, 2016: Pakistan released a video which showed Jadhav “confessing” to his crimes. India protested, questioning not only the authenticity of the video but accusing Pakistan of torturing Jadhav into “confessing”. In April 2016, the provincial government of Balochistan filed a First Information Report against Jadhav, charging him with terrorism and sabotage.
- December 2016: Foreign advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Sartaj Aziz, admitted that the dossier prepared on Jadhav had mere statements. Aziz said the Pakistani authorities would have to find more evidence against Jadhav for the case to proceed.
- March 7, 2017: Aziz changed his stance and said Jadhav would not be extradited to India under any circumstances.
- April 4, 2017: A Pakistni martial court gives Jadhav a death sentence. A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations office said, “RAW agent Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav was tried under Section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, and Section 3 of the Official Secret Act of 1923. He was found guilty of all charges.” India said this was in flagrant violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, and issued a demarche saying that the proceedings leading up to the death sentence were “farcical”.
- April 27, 2017: Pakistan, however, said the trial was “transparent” and was based on “specific evidence”. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Jadhav’s “confessional video” had led to the dismantling of a terror network in the country. Zakaria’s remarks came a day after India submitted an appeal on behalf of Jadhav’s mother in the Pakistani appellate court against his death sentence. Delhi had also sought visas for Jadhav’s parents and consular access to him; these were denied. The Centre also sought Jadhav’s health certificate, a copy of the death sentence, and the chargesheet filed against him from Pakistan. These were not granted either.
- May 9, 2017: After India moves the ICJ in the case, the court initiates its proceedings. India urged the court to deliver an order indicating provisional measures immediately, “without waiting for an oral hearing”, and referred to “the extreme gravity and immediacy of the threat that authorities in Pakistan will execute an Indian citizen in violation of obligations Pakistan owes to India”.
- May 15, 2017: India, represented by senior lawyers including Harish Salve, asked that the death sentence be suspended immediately. Salve argued that they were never given a copy of Jadhav’s chargesheet, granted consular access, and that Jadhav never even got a fair trial, among other things. However, Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was an Indian spy and that they had found a passport on him under a fake name.
The ICJ’s verdict will be streamed live on Thursday at 3.30 pm IST.
Since India and Pakistan have consented to the ICJ’s jurisdiction, the orders passed by the ICJ are deemed to be binding. However, Jadhav’s case has spiralled into a massive controversy between the two countries, which had already been on unsteady terms with each other. There have also been instances in the past where the ICJ’s rulings have been violated or nullified.