External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday called for the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who had been sentenced to death for espionage by a Pakistani military court, saying that his detention was illegal and under “fabricated charges”. Jaishankar’s remarks came a day after the International Court of Justice ruled that Pakistan had breached international law by not giving consular access to Jadhav.
“The International Court of Justice by a vote of 15-1 upheld India’s claim that Pakistan is in violation of Vienna Convention on several counts,” Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha. “We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate Kulbhushan Jadhav.”
Jaishankar said that the international court’s ruling on the matter had vindicated Jadhav and also those who believe in the rule of law. The minister added that the Indian government had, in 2017, promised to undertake necessary measures to “protect interest and welfare” of Jadhav. “The government has made untiring efforts in seeking his release including through legal means in International Court of Justice.”
Both India and Pakistan have claimed victory in the case. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he appreciated the decision of the International Court of Justice not to acquit and release Jadhav. “He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Khan said in a tweet.
In New Delhi, the verdict was hailed as being in India’s favour. The court had also asked Islamabad not to execute Jadhav.
Jadhav is an Indian citizen who is on death row in Pakistan. Pakistan claimed that Jadhav had been spying for India’s Research and Analysis Wing when he was caught in 2016 – a claim that India denied. The ICJ rejected India’s demands for his release and said that Pakistan would have to decide how to review Jadhav’s trial and conviction.