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Mainstream, VOL LV No 22 New Delhi May 20, 2017

ICJ Speaks Out in Jadhav Case

Saturday 20 May 2017, by SC



The International Court of Justice has spoken out loud and clear.

Today it instructed Pakistan not to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer convicted of alleged espionage and terrorism and subsequently sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court (functioning under deep secrecy), till the ICJ pronounces its final decision on New Delhi’s petition to annul the death sentence.

The President of the UN’s highest court in The Hague said: “Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings and shall inform the Court of all the measures taken in implementation of the present order.”

Pakistan reacted to the ICJ order by saying that the UN’s highest court had no jurisdiction over national security matters, a point dismissed by the Court.

Pakistan’s Attorney-General said the ICJ’s order did not change the status of Jadhav in any way. A state-ment from the Attorney-General’s office underlined: “We are determined to pursue this case to its logical end.”

And the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman declared: “We do not accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ in matters related to the national security of the country.” He further stated that Pakistan “will present solid evidence against the Indian spy in the international court”.

The ICJ order has led to a sense of triumphalism bordering on jingoism in the Indian media, notably the electronic media. This is completely unwarranted. The final decision of the ICJ has yet to come. At present the ICJ has endorsed the Indian position that the trial amounted to “serious miscarriage of justice” as Indian diplomats were not given access to Jadhav who was not even allowed to choose his own defence. Such restrictions, India argued, were a breach of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, something the ICJ upheld. So this is a victory of India for the present as Jadhav has been given a reprieve at the moment. However, gloating over this development is thoroughly uncalled for, and this needs to be reiterated.

Meanwhile, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has heard a bunch of petitions demanding an end to the controversial custom of triple talaaq but has reserved its order in the case. But what is significant is that the powerful Muslim body defending triple talaaq, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), has told the Apex Court that it was willing to ask all qazis in the country to give brides the option of keeping the divorce practice out of the marriage contract. It promised to issue an advisory to this effect within a week. However, as the Board is not a statutory body its advice is not binding.

Yet such a development is noteworthy, to say the least.

May 18 s.c.

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