NEW DELHI: Former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death in Pakistan, got a reprieve as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in an order watched keenly in both countries, unanimously stayed his execution.
Delivering an interim order on a plea by India, the highest UN court rejected Pakistan's contention that it lacked jurisdiction in the case and held that India had a "plausible" right to access to Jadhav. The earliest he could have been executed was May 19, but the ICJ order compels Pakistan to wait for the verdict after the full hearing, which could take many years.
"Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision... and shall inform the court of all measures taken in implementation of the present order," court president Ronny Abraham said.
India had rushed to the ICJ on May 8 fearing that Jadhav might be executed any time, and had sought a legal restraint on Pakistan. It argued that the matter came under the purview of the ICJ because Pakistan had violated India's right, provided under the Vienna Convention, to have consular access to Jadhav. It had also sought an urgent hearing by highlighting the risk of Jadhav's imminent hanging. In its provisional order, the ICJ said it had jurisdiction in the matter, and rejected Pakistan's argument that India had agreed to keep matters concerning national security out of the purview of the Vienna Convention.