The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has fixed April 17 and July 17 as time-limits for India and Pakistan respectively for the filing of the written pleadings by them in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved The Hague-based ICJ in May. A 10-member bench of the ICJ on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case. According to a statement issued by the principal judicial organ of the UN, the ICJ authorised the submission of a reply by India and of a rejoinder by Pakistan in the Jadhav case. “The Court fixed 17 April 2018 and 17 July 2018 as the respective time-limits for the filing of these written pleadings,” said the statement issued last week. It said the ICJ made its decision taking into account the views of the parties and the circumstances of the case.
Pakistan claims its security forces arrested Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel from its restive Balochistan province on March 3 last year after he reportedly entered from Iran. India, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy. Pakistan had rejected India’s plea for consular access to Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wants the access to get the information gathered by its “spy”.
In its counter-memorial submitted to the ICJ last month, Pakistan had said the provision of such an access under the Vienna Convention is only for legitimate visitors and not for spies.
However, Pakistan facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on December 25. In the pictures issued by Pakistan, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through intercom.
Later, India accused Pakistan of disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities of Jadhav’s family members under the pretext of security by removing the mangal sutra, bangles and bindi of his mother and wife before they could meet him. After the meeting, Pakistan issued a video message of Jadhav in which he is seen thanking the Pakistan government for arranging a meeting with his wife and mother.
Earlier this month, Pakistan again released another video of Jadhav in which he purportedly claimed that he has not been harmed in custody, prompting a strong reaction from India, which called it a “propagandistic exercise” by Islamabad that simply carried no credibility.