Kulbhushan Jadhav in International Court of Justice



  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a 49-year-old retired officer of the Indian Navy
  • He was arrested by security forces in Pakistan in March 2016
  • The retired Indian Navy officer was held on charges of “terrorism and espionage”

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav (born 16 April 1970) is an Indian national. It is alleged by the Pakistani government that he was arrested in the Pakistani province of Balochistan on charges of terrorism and spying for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. On 10 April 2017, Indian foreign ministry said he had been “kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly”.

The Pakistani government stated that he was a serving commander in the Indian Navy who was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan and was arrested on 3 March 2016 during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan. The Indian government recognized Jadhav as a former naval officer but denied any current links with him and maintained that he took premature retirement and was abducted from Iran.

On 10 April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial in Pakistan. On 18 May 2017, the International Court of Justice stayed the execution pending the final judgement on the case. On 17 July 2019, the court rejected India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release and ordered Pakistan to suspend the execution. It ruled that Pakistan will have to review the entire process of trial and conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav and provide India with consular access.

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In May 2017, India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asserting that Pakistani authorities were denying India its right of consular access to Jadhav in violation of the Vienna Convention.

The ICJ proceedings began in The Hague on 15 May to review the case. India and Pakistan both sent their legal teams to put forward their arguments, led by Harish Salve and Khawar Qureshi respectively. On 18 May 2017, the International Court of Justice stayed the hanging of Jadhav.

On 22 June 2017, Pakistani sources confirmed that Jadhav had sought clemency from the country’s army chief following his conviction. Pakistan also released a new confessional video of Jadhav, in which he stated that he visited Karachi twice for gathering intelligence on naval facilities. He also admitted to supporting and funding, on behalf of India’s RAW (Research And Analysis Wing), Baloch militants affiliated with the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) and BRA (Baloch Republic Army), in addition to infiltrating and establishing “30 to 40 RAW operatives along the Makran Coast” for involvement in terrorist activities.Jadhav said that RAW’s activities in Balochistan and Sindh were conducted under the direction of Anil Kumar Dhasmana. India’s Foreign Ministry again dismissed the confession as “false propaganda”, stating that Pakistan was trying to influence ICJ proceedings while denying the consular rights to Jadhav. ICJ did not allow Pakistan to play the video during the hearing.

On 25 December, Jadhav’s mother and wife met Jadhav in Islamabad after being allowed permission by Pakistani authorities. India subsequently denounced Pakistan for its handling of the visit of the wife and mother of Jadhav, saying they were harassed and prevented from talking to Jadhav freely.

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On 17 July 2019, the ICJ, in its verdict, rejected India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release and directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence. The court observed that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting consular access. Pakistan and India both claimed victory and welcomed the judgement of ICJ.

Author: Ananya Pandey,
Law student 4th b.a.llb marathwada mitra mandal's shankarrao chavan law college

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