Lahore   -   The International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday rejected India’s request to ‘acquit, release and return’ its convicted spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, however it directed Pakistan to ensure an effective review and reconsideration of his sentence.

The serving Indian Navy Commander Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 in a counter-intelligence operation from the Balochistan province.

A military court had given him death sentence on April 10, 2017 on charges of espionage following his confession on operating for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to conduct terrorist activities on the Pakistani soil.

India invoked the jurisdiction of ICJ on May 8, 2017 seeking stay in implementation of execution and later on expanded its prayer for consular access and also his acquittal, release and return.

After proceedings spawning over two years in The Hague, Netherlands, the 15-member ICJ bench reserved its decision on February 21.

On Tuesday, President of the ICJ Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf read out the 42-page decision in a public sitting at the Peace Palace’s courtroom, which was jam packed with officials, representatives and media persons from Pakistan and India.

The United Nations’ top court in its final verdict rejected the key parts of India's appeal, and ruled an effective review and reconsideration of the sentence by Pakistan, by the means of its own choosing. "It is not the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav, which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention," the Hague-based court in response to India's plea to release Jadhav and to facilitate his safe passage to India.

The court did not accept India’s contention that Jadhav was entitled to 'restitutio in integrum' (restoration to original position) and turned down its request to annul the decision of Pakistan’s military court.

However, it ruled that Pakistan "by the means of its own choosing" could undergo an effective review and reconsideration of the sentence.

"The court notes that Pakistan acknowledges that the appropriate remedy in the present case would be effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence," the ICJ verdict read.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the decision a “victory of Pakistan.” In a tweet following the court ruling, he said, “Commander Jadhav will remain in Pakistan and will be treated in accordance with the law of Pakistan.”

The ICJ accepted Pakistan's point that Jadhav was an Indian national possessing a valid Indian passport in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel and said, “It is satisfied that the evidence before it leaves no room for doubt that Mr Jadhav is of Indian nationality.”

The court did not uphold the submissions by India that the "partial or total annulment of conviction or sentence provided the necessary and sole remedy."

It however declared that a continued stay of execution constituted an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction.

The verdict said that the ICJ had the jurisdiction to entertain the application of India under the Vienna Convention, saying it had the jurisdiction under Article 1 of the Optional Protocol concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963.

Earlier, Pakistan had argued that Article 36 of Vienna Convention was not applicable in cases of espionage.

Flanked by English Queen’s counsel Barrister Khawar Qureshi, a 13-member Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor along with Director General South Asia Dr Muhammad Faisal and comprising officials of the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was present in the courtroom.

The case proceedings were shown live from the courtroom and shared by the ICJ’s website for real-time update for the viewers worldwide.

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor told reporters outside the courtroom that the decision clearly stated that Jadhav would remain in custody of Pakistan. “This is a clear, clear win for Pakistan.”

The Attorney General said Pakistan had been very clear from the outset and would consider the review and reconsideration as per the law of land.

Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said “having heard the judgment, Pakistan would now proceed as per law.”

Speaking to reporters, he said, “Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community upheld its commitment from the very beginning of the case by appearing before the honourable court for the provisional measures hearing despite a very short notice.”