The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case from Monday at The Hague during which India and Pakistan will present their arguments before the top UN court, which was set up after World War II to resolve international disputes.
Jadhav, 48, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India moved the ICJ in May the same year against the verdict.
A 10-member bench of the ICJ on May 18, 2017 had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
The ICJ has set a timetable for the public hearing in the case from Febraury 18 to 21 in The Hague and Harish Salve, who represents India in the case, is expected to argue first on February 18.
The English Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi will make submissions on February 19 from Islamabad’s side. Then India will reply on February 20 while Islamabad will make its closing submissions on February 21.
The hearings will be streamed live on the Court’s website as well as on UN Web TV, the United Nations online television channel. It is expected that the ICJ’s decision may be delivered by the summer of 2019.
“India will present its case before the court. Since the matter is subjudice it is not appropriate for me to state our position in public. Whatever we have to do, we will do at the court,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last week in response to a question.
Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor would lead the Pakistani delegation at the ICJ while Director General South Asia Mohammad Faisal would lead the Foreign Office side.
Both India and Pakistan have already submitted their detailed pleas and responses in the world court.
In its written pleadings, India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by not giving consular access to Jadhav arguing that the convention did not say that such access would not be available to an individual arrested on espionage charges.
In response, Pakistan through its counter-memorial told the ICJ that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 applied only to legitimate visitors and did not cover clandestine operations.
Pakistan had said that “since India did not deny that Jadhav was travelling on a passport with an assumed Muslim name, they have no case to plead.”
Pakistan said that India did not explain how “a serving naval commander” was travelling under an assumed name. It also stated that “since Jadhav was on active duty, it is obvious that he was a spy sent on a special mission”.
In its submission to the ICJ, Pakistan had stated that Jadhav is not an ordinary person as he had entered the country with the intent of spying and carrying out sabotage activities.
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.
However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy. Jadhav’s sentencing had evoked a sharp reaction in India.