New Delhi : India scored a major diplomatic victory over Pakistan on Thursday as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the execution of former navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. The United Nations' highest judicial body also asked Pakistan to take "all measures" to ensure that Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for espionage, was not executed till the court had delivered its final verdict.
Islamabad said it had informed the ICJ that it did not accept the court's jurisdiction in matters related to national security. ICJ president Ronny Abraham asked Pakistan to keep the court informed "of all measures taken" in the implementation of the order.
The 15-member bench backed India's contention that there had been a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations as New Delhi's requests for consular access to its national had been denied 16 times.
The court, which had provisionally stayed Jadhav's sentence on May 9, also noted that India and Pakistan were signatories to the Vienna Convention since 1977.
Jadhav would get a reprieve of at least 150 days since the sentence was announced, as Pakistan had indicated that the execution would "probably not take place" before August.
"This means that there is a risk that an execution could take place at any moment thereafter, before the court has given its final decision in the case," the court said, and asked Pakistan to ensure that court's order is followed.
The ICJ said, "The mere fact that Mr Jadhav is under a death sentence and might therefore be executed is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India."
The verdict came three days after the two countries gave their submissions during which India demanded the annulment of the sentence and described Pakistan's trial to convict Jadhav as "farcical". Pakistan, in turn, argued that Jadhav was a spy and India's plea was "misconceived".
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria hit out at India on Thursday, saying it was "trying to hide its real face" by taking the case to the ICJ. "We do not accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ in matters related to national security of the country," he was quoted as saying by a television channel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his satisfaction with the verdict and spoke to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who described the order as a "great relief". The two leaders thanked senior lawyer Harish Salve, who headed a battery of lawyers presenting India's case at The Hague. India moved the ICJ against the death penalty on May 8.