International Court of Justice orders Pakistan to "review" death sentence given to Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav but doesn't rule in favour of India, which sought Jadhav's return, in a case that has stoked tensions between the South Asian nuclear rivals.

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, who Pakistan says is a serving officer in the Indian navy,  was arrested in March 2016 in Mashakel town, a few miles from the border with Iran, and subsequently sentenced to death in 2017.
Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, who Pakistan says is a serving officer in the Indian navy, was arrested in March 2016 in Mashakel town, a few miles from the border with Iran, and subsequently sentenced to death in 2017. (TRTWorld)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday announced its verdict on India's petition challenging the death sentence given to Indian "spy" Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access and asking Pakistan to ensure "effective review" of his death sentence. 

The Hague-based world court directed Pakistan to suspend the execution of the death penalty handed to Jadhav till it fulfills the new conditions ensuring consular access and "effectively" reviewing the case.

The court found by 15 votes to 1 that Pakistan had breached Jadhav's rights under the Vienna Convention on consular relations by not allowing Indian diplomats to visit him in jail, according to the document published on the court's website.

Unclear ruling?

The ICJ, however, rejected most of the other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of Pakistan military court's decision convicting Jadhav, his release and his return to India.

The ICJ has no means to enforce its rulings, which are final and without appeal. It is unclear from the ruling what exactly would constitute an "effective review" of Jadhav's death sentence.

Both Pakistan and India hailed the decision as "victory" for their countries. 

Jadhav, who Pakistan says is a serving officer in the Indian navy,  was arrested in March 2016 in Mashakel town, a few miles from the border with Iran, and subsequently sentenced to death in 2017.

Pakistan says he was using the Muslim name Hussein Mubarak Patel on a forged passport. 

Officials accuse Jadhav of running a spy network for India's powerful Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency from the Iranian port of Chabahar.

New Delhi's arguments 

New Delhi rejects Islamabad's charges saying Jadhav is a retired navy officer who was "kidnapped" from Iran where he was doing his own business and his subsequent presence in Pakistan was never explained credibly.

Jadhav was tried by a military court that sentenced him to death on espionage and terrorism charges. No date, however, was set for his execution, which would be by hanging.

Pakistan says Jadhav had confessed before the court to having been tasked to "plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi."

New Delhi took the case to the ICJ, which stayed Jadhav's execution in July 2018.

In February, Pakistan's attorney-general told the ICJ that Jadhav's "unlawful activities were directed at creating anarchy in Pakistan and particularly targeted the China-Pakistan corridor."

China and Pakistan are close allies and Beijing has funded a huge port at Gwadar on the Balochistan coast.

Jhadav's last hearing coincided with a sharp spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after a suicide bombing in disputed Kashmir, although relations have since improved.

Sensitive case

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal announced last week that Pakistan would accept the ICJ's verdict on Jadhav.

A Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan was in Hague on Wednesday to hear the verdict.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies