Former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death in Pakistan, got a reprieve as the International Court of Justice, 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. Harish Salve, who argued India's case, said that Pakistan would run into serious trouble with the UN Security Council should it choose to execute Jadhav before the ICJ pronounces its final order. 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 .
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. The court said India had the right to seek consular access, and also acknowledged India's contention that Jadhav could be executed any time after Friday which would mark 40 days since a military court sentenced Jadhav to death.