Taking note of ICJ’s judgment around 2 weeks ago in the Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav case, Pakistan on Thursday offered consular access to the Indian national. In response to this, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has confirmed that Delhi had received such a proposal.
At the weekly briefing, he stated, “We are evaluating it in the light of the judgement of the ICJ, we will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channel. This is not the appropriate forum to discuss modalities.”
On 17th July, in a 15-1 verdict, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had granted India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and also directed that legal representation should be arranged for him. Moreover, the bench has also maintained the stay on his execution and has directed Pakistan to Review and reconsider the conviction and sentence.
Kulbhushan Jadhav is a retired Indian naval officer who had been sentenced to death by the military court in Pakistan on grounds of espionage.
The verdict was a diplomatic victory for India, and a source of embarrassment for Pakistan. The neighboring country had violated article 36 of the Vienna Convention on consular relations, 1963, which dictated the established consular norms and protocol between 2 nations, to which both, India and Pakistan are signatory. According, Pakistan was supposed to:
- Inform India immediately of Jadhav’s arrest
- Inform Jadhav of his rights under the article
- Grant consular access to him
- Enable consular officers to arrange for proper legal representation
Unfortunately, Pakistan failed on all of these fronts. Not only was Jadhav unaware of his rights, but India was denied consular access despite multiple requests. Also, India was made aware of the arrest 3 weeks after the arrest which was completely against the rights of the accused.
Despite repeated requests from India, Pakistan refused to provide consular access to Jadhav and proceeded to conduct a secret trial. The denial of rights portrayed that the entire trial had been conducted in an arbitrary manner. Thus, after Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death in the Pakistani military court on April 10, 2017, India moved the ICJ for a fair and legal trial.
Pakistan tried its best to quash the case at the ICJ, by raising absurd issues, including questioning the admissibility of the court to adjudicate. Pakistan had also attempted to shirk from its responsibility of following the Vienna Convention, which was suitably rejected by the court.
The ICJ had refuted all of Pakistan’s claims and had proceeded to grant Jadhav his rights. It directed Pakistan to take all measures necessary to abide by the judgment, even if it necessitates “enacting appropriate legislation”
While the Indians are rejoicing, the offer shouldn’t be treated as a favour by Pakistan. They are offering to give Jadhav his legal rights, something they should have done a long time ago.
The investigation and trial conducted by Pakistan, without India having any knowledge about the case or without Jadhav having an aid who had his best interests at heart, was nothing short of a sham. The trial was conducted secretly and quickly and it is obvious that Jadhav did not have the resources or the ability to defend himself in a fair manner.
Pakistan knew that if the case was adjudicated by the ICJ, they may rule against the interests of Pakistan, which is exactly what has happened. Now, they have to extend a fair trial to Jadhav with proper legal representation. With proper consular access and legal representation, the Pakistani military will not be able to fabricate facts and hence, reviewing of the case will be done in a free and fair manner.