UPSC PRELIMS 2019: Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

Topic : Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs


Context :

Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

In a major verdict that accepted India’s plea that former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s trial under espionage and terror charges in Pakistan violated international law, the International Court of Justice ruled that Pakistan should “review and reconsider” his conviction and death sentence.


Background of the case

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested by the Pakistani government for ‘spying’ and allegedly plotting terror acts in Balochistan, and India had made several appeals to Pakistan for access to Mr. Jadhav
  • Subsequently, Pakistan held a secret trial of Mr. Jadhav in a military court, where evidence and processes were not made public. On May 8, 2017, after the Pakistani court convicted and sentenced Mr. Jadhav, India went to the ICJ as a last resort of appeal.


About the Verdict

  • All 16 judges on the UN judicial organ’s panel ruled unanimously that the ICJ’s jurisdiction held over the case.
  • On six other contentions, including on the comprehensive violation of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan, the immediate granting of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence”, and a continued stay of execution, the ICJ panel ruled 15-1 in India’s favour. Pakistani Judge, Justice Jillani, was the lone dissenter on those rulings.


Details of the Verdict on specific arguments

On Pakistan’s failure to provide consular access

  • The Court is of the view that the alleged failure by India to cooperate in the investigation process in Pakistan does not relieve Pakistan of its obligation to grant consular access under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and does not justify Pakistan’s denial of access to Mr Jadhav by consular officers of India.

On exception to granting consular access in cases of espionage

  • The Court thus concludes that, when interpreted in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the Vienna Convention in their context and in the light of its object and purpose, the Convention does not exclude from its scope certain categories of persons, such as those suspected of espionage.

On Pakistan not informing Jadhav of his rights

  • Pakistan consistently maintained that the Convention does not apply to an individual suspected of espionage. The Court infers from this position of Pakistan that it did not inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna Convention, and thus concludes that Pakistan breached its obligation to inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under that provision

On delay by Pakistan in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest and detention

  • Pakistan claims that at the time of his arrest on 3 March, 2016, Mr Jadhav was in possession of an Indian passport bearing the name “Hussein Mubarak Patel”. In the circumstances of the present case, the Court considers that there were sufficient grounds at the time of the arrest on 3 March, 2016 or shortly thereafter for Pakistan to conclude that the person was, or was likely to be, an Indian national, thus triggering its obligation to inform India of his arrest.
  • There was a delay of some three weeks between Mr Jadhav’s arrest on 3 March, 2016 and the notification made to India on 25 March, 2016. The Court recalls that “neither the terms of the (Vienna) Convention as normally understood, nor its object and purpose, suggest that ‘without delay’ is to be understood as ‘immediately upon arrest and before interrogation’.”


Sample Question:

“Rule of Law Index” is released by which of the following ?

a. Amnesty International

b. International Court of Justice

c. The Office of UN Commissioner for Human Rights

d. World Justice Project


Answer: d