ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has formally communicated its decision to nominate Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former chief justice of the Supreme Court, to sit as the judge ad hoc in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) — an international court seized with a complaint from India regarding the conviction of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

JUSTICE Tassaduq Hussain Jillani served as the 21st chief justice of Pakistan from Dec 11, 2013 to July 5, 2014.
JUSTICE Tassaduq Hussain Jillani served as the 21st chief justice of Pakistan from Dec 11, 2013 to July 5, 2014.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) announced on Wednesday that the ICJ would now notify India about the nomination of Justice Jillani as the judge ad hoc in the Jadhav case.

Soon after meeting ICJ President Ronny Abraham and the delegations of Pakistan and India in the Netherlands on June 8, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali informed the World Court about Pakistan’s intent to appoint a judge ad hoc to the ICJ bench for all proceedings, including substantive hearings in the Jadhav case.

ICJ procedures allow a party to nominate a judge ad hoc if there is no judge of the party’s nationality on the bench. Currently, there is no Pakistani judge on the bench, whereas Judge Dalveer Bhandari from India sits as a judge of the World Court. Those appointed as judges ad hoc are treated as having the same authority as any of the sitting judges, MoFA said.

Jadhav was captured in Balochistan in March 2016. He later confessed to being associated with India’s Research and Analysis Wing, and his involvement in espionage and fomenting terrorism in Pakistan. Earlier this year, the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) awarded him death sentence, which was confirmed by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa on April 10. The military court of appeal has already rejected Jadhav’s appeal against the death penalty. He later filed a mercy petition with the chief of army staff, which is still under consideration.

Justice Jillani served as a judge of the Supreme Court from July 31, 2004 to Dec 11, 2013 and subsequently as the 21st chief justice from Dec 11, 2013 to July 5, 2014.

In his short stint as chief justice, Justice Jillani earned accolades despite the prevailing environment of rising intolerance and bigotry, when through a judgement he ordered the government to protect the constitutional rights of minorities, and ordered law enforcement agencies to promptly register criminal cases over the desecration of their places of worship.

Justice Jillani also had ordered the National Database and Registration Authority to draft a new policy to register orphans or those whose parentage is not known.

One of his celebrated judgements came in 2002, while Justice Jillani was in the Lahore High Court, in which he held a woman’s right to marry of her own volition was a fundamental right that no one could infringe upon.

On May 18, the ICJ passed an interim order staying Jadhav’s execution, and the foreign office informed the World Court that the government of Pakistan had instructed relevant departments to give effect to the ICJ’s order.

The ICJ, located at the Peace Palace in The Hague, has set Pakistan a deadline of Dec 13, by which it has to submit its counter-pleadings against India’s memorial. The final proceedings on the issue are likely to commence in January next year.

The registrar of the World Court was informed on July 5 that the AG would act as the agent for Pakistan in the case and Foreign Affairs Director General Dr Mohammad Faisal would continue to act as the co-agent.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2017