The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will today deliver its verdict on the death sentence awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism. India has challenged the "farcical trial" that Mr Jadhav was put through on the basis of what it claims was an extracted confession.
A public sitting of the United Nations court will take place at 6:30 pm IST at the Peace Palace in The Hague, following which top judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will read out the verdict. Last week, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisah had said that while his country cannot predict the court's decision, it has contested the case to best of its abilities.
Pakistan claims that its security forces had arrested Mr Jadhav from Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, after he entered the country from Iran. India -- on the other hand -- maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran, where he had held business interests after retiring from the Navy. The 10-member bench of the ICJ has restrained Pakistan from executing Kulbhushan Jadhav until the conclusion of the case.
A month after Mr Jadhav was sentenced to death in April 2017, India dragged Pakistan to the ICJ on charges of denying consular access to the 49-year-old retired Navy officer and orchestrating a "farcical trial" in order to nail him. Pakistan defended its action of denying consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav by terming it as a ploy by the Indian government to procure information gathered by its "spy".
The ICJ had held a four-day public hearing in the high-profile case in February amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over the death of 40 CRPF soldiers in the Pulwama terror attack. Both India and Pakistan submitted their detailed pleas and responses, with the former terming the denial of consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav as a breach of the Vienna Convention.
Advocate Harish Salve, who represented India in the case, questioned the functioning of Pakistan's notorious military courts and urged the ICJ to annul the death sentence awarded to Mr Jadhav. Pakistan counsel Khawar Qureshi, on the other hand, asked the international court to dismiss India's claim for relief or declare it inadmissible.
Despite not granting consular access to Mr Jadhav, Pakistan had facilitated a meeting with his wife and mother in Islamabad on December 25, 2017. But Indian officials said the retired Navy officer had simply "parroted Pakistani propaganda" through the brief interaction, claiming that he was a spy.
(With inputs from PTI)