India today said that the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) staying the execution of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav is binding on Pakistan and termed the verdict as "unanimous" and "unambiguous".
Hours after the ICJ in The Hague pronounced its provisional order in the case, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the government will do everything possible to save the life of Jadhav.
Addressing a crowed press conference here, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that the provisional relief provided by the ICJ is the first step in ensuring justice to Jadhav.
When asked if India will make a fresh plea before Pakistan to seek consular access to its national, who is believed to be lodged at an unknown prison in Pakistan, Baglay replied that all 16 requests for the same are already pending before Islamabad and not a single petition has been withdrawn.
“If Pakistan wants, it can allow consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav anytime,” the MEA spokesperson told reporters. “We have made 16 applications for consular access and none of them have been withdrawn,” he added.
“The order by the ICJ is unanimous, favourable, clear and unambiguous. The verdict a matter of great relief for people of the country,” he said.
Blow to Pak, ICJ stays execution of Jadhav
The ICJ earlier today stayed a Pakistani military court’s order awarding death sentence to alleged spy and formal Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The court’s order, which was announced by ICJ President Ronny Abraham in a public sitting, noted that Jadhav should not be executed until the court delivers its final decision.
"Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that 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. The Court also decides that, until it has given its final decision, it shall remain seised of the matters which form the subject-matter of this Order," the ruled.
The circumstances of Jadhav's arrest remain disputed, the ICJ president said while reading out his verdict.
The court also rejected Pakistan’s jurisdiction argument and noted that Indian should have got consular accesses to its citizen.
"The Court observes that the existence of a 2008 bilateral Agreement between the Parties on consular relations does not change its conclusion on jurisdiction," ICJ Judge Ronny Abraham said, adding that the decision to stay Kulbhushan Jadhav's execution pending ICJ hearing is unanimous.
"India has the right to seek consular access for Jadhav," the judge further said.
"The Court further observes that Pakistan has indicated that any execution of Jadhav would probably not take place before the month of August 2017. This means that there is a risk that an execution could take place at any moment thereafter, before the Court has given its final decision in the case. The Court also notes that Pakistan has given no assurance that Jadhav will not be executed before the Court has rendered its final decision. In those circumstances, the Court is satisfied that there is urgency in the present case," the court's order reads.
The ICJ order has come as a great relief to the familly of Kulbhushan Jadhav and people of India.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 18, 2017
"We are grateful to Mr.Harish Salve for presenting India's case so effectively before ICJ. I assure the nation that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi we will leave no stone unturned to save Kulbhushan Jadhav," Swaraj said in another tweet.
The ICJ also said the case is now being heard in the international court, and both sides can present their arguments to the court.
Harish Salve, who represented India at the ICJ, said that hope is what drives them to believe that Jadhav is still alive. "But there is no concrete proof to determine that".
On the other hand, Pakistan’s delegation who went to defend its judgment on Kulbhushan Jadhav said the provisions of the Vienna Convention were not intended for a "spy" involved in terror activities.
Reacting to the development, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said, "Hope that final decision also comes India's way and we can see Jadhav come back home."
"Indian stand is victorious, congratulate all concerned persons,especially the External Affairs Ministry," he added.
Major victory for India #KulbhushanJadhav case.ICJ upholds India's right to consular access,put a stay on death execution. Justice prevails— M Venkaiah Naidu (@MVenkaiahNaidu) May 18, 2017
India has no substance in case, says Pak AG
In a statement issued after the ICJ’s decision, Pakistan Attorney General’s Office said that ‘the Court clearly underscored that the provisional measures are without prejudice to the final determination of the merits and jurisdiction of the case’.
“The provisional measures are a procedural process only to enable the Court to have full consideration at a later hearing. These measures have no bearing whatsoever on the final decision of the Court. Pakistan attended the hearing out of its utmost respect for the Court and pursuant to the established jurisprudence that the challenge to jurisdiction can be made via appearance and not by abstaining from the process. In addition, Pakistan attended because of its conviction that the only way to resolve all outstanding issues is through peaceful means. We are confident that India would not be able to hide the subversive activities it is trying to carry out through its agents like Commander Jadhav.”
The AG office also said that New Delhi has no substance in the case.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, the Court's decision today has not changed the status of Commander Jadhav's case in any manner. In our submissions on 15 May, we had assured the Court unambiguously that Commander Jadhav would be provided every opportunity and remedy available under the law to defend his case. Commander Jadhav still has ample time to petition for clemency. To recall, we had in our presentation on 15 May, proposed to the court that a final hearing be held on the merits and maintainability of the case as early as possible. We are determined to pursue this case to its logical end,” the statement added.
Pak does not accept ICJ's jurisdiction: FO
Pakistan does not accept the International Court of Justice's jurisdiction in matters related to national security, its Foreign Office said today after the UN court stayed the execution of Jadhav.
Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria also hit out at India, saying the country has been "trying to hide its real face" by taking the case of Jadhav to ICJ.
"The real face of India will be exposed before the world," he said, adding that Jadhav has confessed his crimes of sabotage, terrorism and subversion activities not only once but twice.
He said Pakistan has already informed the ICJ that it does not accept its jurisdiction in matters related to the national security.
"We do not accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ in matters related to the national security of the country," he was quoted as saying by the Dunya TV.
However, he said Pakistan will present solid evidence against the Indian spy in the International Court.
The development comes 10 days after India approached the UN's top court for provisional measure of protection -- an interim relief -- in the Jadhav case.
In a public hearing on Monday, India had accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by denying consular access to Jadhav and pronouncing him guilty of espionage in a farcical trial.
The Indian legal team represented by Deepak Mittal, who heads the Pakistan division of External Affairs Ministry, had demanded immediate annulment of Jadhav's death sentence amid fears that he may be executed even before the world court pronounced its decision.
Jadhav was awarded the death sentence by a Pakistan military court in April, a year after he was arrested on espionage charges. Islamabad has rejected 16 Indian requests for consular access to the former Indian Navy officer, held at an unknown prison in Pakistan.