The requirements of being a responsible UN member
The Modi government took a highly unusual decision to challenge in the ICJ the death sentence awarded by a military court in Pakistan to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav thus internationalising the dispute with Pakistan. This was altogether inconsistent with India’s conventional stand that all issues with Pakistan were only to be resolved bilaterally. Pakistan government was taken by surprise when ICJ called both sides for the hearing. Pakistan FO which should have known better had already taken the stand that it was not mandatory for Pakistan to provide consular access to a self-confessed spy in view of Pakistan’s laws and bilateral obligations and commitments.
At the ICJ India’s lead counsel focused his arguments on Pakistan’s denial of consular access to Jadhav despite innumerable requests which he said amounted to the violation of the Vienna convention. He sought interim relief for Kulbhshan Jadhav praying that the prisoner may not be executed till the final disposal of the case.
Following the brief given by the FO Pakistan’s counsel challenged the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the case. It was maintained further that the Indian spy was sentenced to death after fulfilling all necessary legal procedures and that he was also provided legal counsel to defend the allegations against him. Further, that the Vienna Convention does not apply to a spy involved in terrorist activities. The counsel argued that the court should not grant the interim relief being requested.
The 11 member ICJ bench has unanimously accepted India’s plea granting Kulbhushan Jadhav the provisional relief as requested and stayed his execution until the case is heard in full and final verdict delivered. Once the government decided to contest the case, there is no other way than to accept the verdict with all its implications. There is a need to engage the best lawyers available to fight the legal battle ahead. Being a responsible member of the UN Pakistan has no option but to complying with the verdict even if it strongly disagrees with it. The government should also consult lawyers over taking some of the disputes with India to the ICJ.