Kulbhushan Jadhav case: a timeline
India claims that Pakistan has failed to inform the accused of his rights, and his arrest and detention are violations of basic tenets of international human rights. Additionally, India has asserted that Jadhav’s trials failed to meet the basic, most minimum standards of due process.
Khulbhushan Jadhav, a 49 year old Indian citizen is currently on death row in Pakistan. He has been charged, convicted and sentenced on charges of ‘espionage and terrorism’, specifically for collecting information for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. Jadhav is a retired Indian Navy officer, and was convicted after a closed trial in Pakistan, in April 2017.
Subsequent to the Pakistan conviction, India moved the International Court of Justice in May 2017. India’s contended that Pakistan repeatedly and egregiously violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, in denying India any consular access to Jadhav. In their claim before the ICJ, India put forth that over 100 attempts were made to meet and access Jadhav, all denied by Pakistan.
The narrative from India is that Jadhav, who has no ties to RAW, was running a business in Iran from where he was kidnapped. Pakistan counters this claim, saying that on March 3, 2016, he was arrested in the Balochistan province, a region that is sparsely populated but heavily plagued by insurgency.
However, India was not aware of his detention and arrest until long after the fact. India also claims that Pakistan has failed to inform the accused of his rights, and his arrest and detention are violations of basic tenets of international human rights. Additionally, India has asserted that Jadhav’s trials failed to meet the basic, most minimum standards of due process.
On these grounds, India’s pleading at the ICJ is to annul the death sentence and to award Jadhav immediate release.
Pakistan refutes all these claims, stating that Jadhav is being held in comfort. As proof, they point to the fact that his mother and his wife were allowed to visit him in Pakistan. However, the Indian External Affairs ministry tore that claim to shreds, pointing out the fact that his visitors were forced to change their clothes, not allowed to speak in their mother tongue, and that his wife’s shoes were confiscated and never returned. India’s claim is that the exercise in general lacks any credibility, and the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating.
In addition to Pakistan’s stance mentioned above, they refute the fact that the Vienna Convention applies to this situation at all:
Their statement at the ICJ said it would be an absurd situation if they allowed Consular officials of a spying state to visit converse, communicate, or correspond with the national who is accused of espionage.
That being said, this absurdity has not been envisioned as an exception within the Vienna Convention. India countered that this reading of the Vienna Convention would allow governments to deny consular access to foreign nationals by simply alleging that they were involved in such acts—thus defeating the point of having a treaty in the first place.
March 3, 2016: The Pakistan military arrests Jadhav on the Iran border. The counter-terrorism court in Quetta charges him with with terrorism, espionage and sabotage.
The Pakistani government states 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.
March 25, 2016: Pakistan informs India about the arrest of Yadav.
March, 2016: Soon after his arrest, Pakistan releases a confessional video of Jadhav in which he was heard identifying himself as a serving Indian naval officer. New Delhi acknowledges Jadhav as a retired Indian navy officer, but denied allegations of any current connections with the government of India.
December 2016: Following the release of the confessional video, former Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, admitted that the government was presented with “insufficient evidence” on the alleged Indian spy.
January 2017: Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, presents a dossier on “India’s interference and terrorism in Pakistan” in a meeting Antonio Guterres ,the then newly-elected UN Secretary General
March 2017: India and Pakistan are battles at the international platform on the issue. A year after Jadhav’s arrest, Pakisthan declared that they are not considering extradition. India immediately asks its neighbour to follow established international practice and norms while dealing with foreign nationals in its custody.
April 2017: The Pakistani military’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed the death sentence of Jadhav. He was found guilty of all charges after a field general court-martial procedure happened on the case. Protesting the death sentence, Indian officials reportedly stalled the release of 12 Pakistani prisoners.
Pakistan’s former Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, in an addressing to the Senate, criticised India’s response to the issue. He said that Jadhav could appeal before the Army chief and the President within 60 days and that the country would follow legal course in the matter.
Soon after, the issue was linked to a missing Pakistani army officer in Nepal also. Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Muhammad Habib Zahir who landed in Kathmandu a week before Jadhav’s arrest in search of a job,went disappeared. His family and friends told Pakistani media that he may have been kidnapped by Indian agencies.
April 13, 2017: The Pakistani military said there would not be any compromise on the death sentence of Jadhav. A day later, the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad met the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan regarding Jadhav’s arrest. In the meeting, India sought consular access to Jadhav and demanded a certified copy of the chargesheet as well as the judgement. Pakistan defended its stand pointing that India also consular access multiple times to many Pakistani prisoners in the past, in spite of repeated requests.
April 26, 2017: Pakistan denied India’s 16th request for consular access. Jadhav’s mother also submitted a letter of appeal to the Pakistani government. Requests for consular access were made since having no information regarding Jadhav's physical well-being and location. India stated that denying consular access violated a bilateral agreement between the two countries. But Pakistan rejected these arguments. The Lahore High Court Bar Association declared that it would act against any lawyer who extend their services to Jadhav.New Delhi cancelled maritime talks between the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) also in between.
May 8, 2017: India first approached International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Pakistan’s “egregious violation” of provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, by continuously denying it consular access to Jadhav.
May 9, 2017: The court asked the two countries to present their arguments and until such time, dictated Pakistan not to do anything. A day later, the ICJ stays Jadhav’s death sentence. Both countries presented their arguments after the international tribunal announced there would be a public hearing in the case.
May 15: The two countries presented their arguments. In public hearings, India confirmed the measures it had sought; Pakistan asked the Court to reject request.
May 18: ICJ restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav until a final verdict is given.
June 13, 2017: September 13 and December 13 are fixed as the deadlines for India’s Memorial and Pakistan’s Counter Memorial respectively.
June 2017: Jadhav filed a mercy petition, along with a confessional statement, with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
December 2017: On humanitarian grounds, Pakistani authorities in December allowed Jadhav to meet his wife and mother . They are allowed to be accompanied by an Indian embassy official as requested by India.
January 17, 2018: April 17 and July 17 fixed as deadlines for India’s Reply and Pakistan’s Rejoinder respectively.
April 2018: India on April 17 submitted its second round of reply in the court. This came after Pakistan submitted its first counter memorial on December 12, 2017.
July 2018: On July 17, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Director in India, Fareha Bugti, submitted a 400-page rejoinder to Delhi's reply. This was the second counter memorial that Pakistan submitted in the ICJ.
October 2018: A statement issued by the ICJ on October 2 announced that the principal judicial organ of the UN will hold a four-day public hearing in the case starting February 18, 2019. The hearings were streamed live and made available on demand in English and French on the court’s website as well as on the UN Web TV, the United Nations online television channel.
November 2018: Former Foreign Affairs Ministry Sushma Swaraj sought diplomatic access to Jhadav.
February 18-21, 2019: India and Pakistan made two rounds of oral arguments at The Hague.
February 2019: A four-day public hearing was held. India based its case on two broad issues — a breach of Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution. India also urged the ICJ to annul Jadhav's death sentence and order his immediate release. Pakistan made it clear from their part that the Indian Navy officer is a “spy”.
July 4, 2019: ICJ announces that the Court’s decision will be read by President of the Court, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf on July 17.