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Kulbhushan Jadhav case — Times Now says ‘categorical win’ for India, Express is sceptical

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Newspapers Thursday celebrate the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict, staying the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav, with banner headlines.

Most notable is The Indian Express: “Justice in International Court”, where it states New Delhi “won a legal and diplomatic victory against Islamabad”. The court, it writes, “slammed” Pakistan for not providing the former Navy officer the right to consular access.

In its ‘Explained’ box, Express is, however, sceptical of the verdict. It says “granting consular access and legal help” to Jadhav is a “low hanging fruit…The court steered clear of adjudicating on charges against Jadhav and didn’t set him free. It has called for a review but has left it to Pak to decide how. It’s upon Pak to show if it follows a process that is fair — and seen to be fair in tune with the verdict.”

Hindustan Times goes with “ICJ tells Pak to review Jadhav death penalty” and calls the verdict a “significant victory”. Quoting the court, HT writes that “a continued stay of Jadhav’s death sentence was an ‘indispensable condition’ for an effective ‘review and reconsideration’ of his conviction.”

It adds, however, that the ICJ “could not uphold India’s demand to annul the Pakistani military court’s death sentence and direct Islamabad to release and repatriate Jadhav.”

The Times of India and The Hindu also focus on the ICJ’s call to review the death penalty on Jadhav.

TOI writes the ICJ “held that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention” in this case, and “importantly, the ruling said the stay on the death sentence pronounced on Jadhav must remain.”

“Rejecting all major contentions put forward by Pakistan, the ICJ said the Vienna Convention was applicable in the Jadhav case regardless of allegations that he was engaged in espionage”, TOI reports.

The Hindu explains the verdict in detail: “ICJ held that the denial of consular access constituted a breach of article 36 para 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963), which Pakistan is a signatory to.”

Karnataka crisis
The second lead of the day is Supreme Court’s verdict on the resignation of 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka.

HT says the verdict “dealt a potential knockout blow to the already wobbly 15-month-old coalition government” by stating that the rebels are not “compelled” to attend the Assembly.

The Hindu reminds the readers that the verdict has “acknowledged the Speaker’s discretion to decide on their resignations as and when he considers it appropriate.”

Express focuses on the whip issued by the JD(S) and Congress “to all its legislators, including 16 MLAs who have resigned, to attend the trust vote as well as a separate whip to vote for the coalition.”

TOI’s headline says, “Top court’s ruling puts HDK on back foot ahead of trust vote.” It writes, the court “did a balancing act and refused to issue any direction to speaker K R Ramesh” on deciding the fate of the rebel MLAs. “In doing so, it overrode its July 11 order asking the speaker to decide on the resignations of 10 MLAs immediately.”

UP shoot-out

Also making news is a case of a shoot-out in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, over a land dispute. HT makes it the lead on its front page flap, and says 10 were shot dead by the pradhan (village head) of Umbha village over a piece of land “sold” to him by an IAS officer.

When the pradhan went to the site, villagers tried to stop him by “hurling stones”. He retaliated “by showering bullets on the protesters, all tribal people, killing nine of them. Another villager who was injured in the clash later died of his injuries,” says HT.

TOI gives it less than a single column space on page 1, and puts the death toll at nine and the number of arrests at five. Express agrees with TOI on the death toll, but says 12 were arrested. The Hindu drops the story entirely.

Hafiz Saeed’s arrest

Papers manage to squeeze in the news of Hafiz Saeed’s arrest. Express says he was held on “terror financing charges by Pakistan’s counter terrorism department”. Trump “hailed” the move, it writes.

TOI notes the arrest comes “four days ahead of Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the US as Pakistan PM.”

Opinion

TOI: In ‘Reprieve for Jadhav’, TOI welcomes the verdict by the International Court of Justice. It has also asked Islamabad to “review its death sentence against” Jadhav.

Jadhav’s trial by the Pakistani military court was marked by opaque proceedings and no concrete proof was presented against him, and he was repeatedly denied consular access. TOI argues that Pakistan intends to portray Jadhav as an “Indian Ajmal Kasab” and that “Islamabad too is a victim of terrorism.” However, this equivalence is absolutely false since there was concrete proof against Kasab. The ICJ caught Pakistan’s bluff, found that it was violating Vienna Conventions and has directed it to rectify its mistakes.

Express: In ‘Crumbling City’, Express highlights the several issues that urban housing faces in the light of the recent building collapse in Mumbai. Almost 10 people died when a 100-year-old building collapsed in Mumbai despite being declared as unsafe by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority in 2017. A “disagreement between the trust which owned the building and the residents over sharing expenses had stalled the project to redevelop the premises,” it writes.

According to National Crime Records Bureau, “more than 38,000 people have lost their lives due to the collapse of various structures between 2001 and 2015.” In many instances, housing authorities are not entirely to be blamed, but it cannot be disputed that they have not shown any resolve to “tackle tricky situations.” Further, the persistence of unsafe practices during construction “raises questions over the certification processes adopted by municipalities.”

Prime Time

The Kulbhushan Jadhav case dominated prime time Wednesday. While some celebrated the verdict, many were sceptical because Jadhav will still remain in Pakistani custody.

Zee News: An hour before the ICJ’s verdict came out, the channel discussed the matter at length in #TalThokKe.

“It is a big day for us. We all pray that he will come back to us,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, adding that Jadhav’s release “will be a strategic victory for us.”

Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, former diplomat, said, “Due process of law was not followed in the criminal court. If not a release, he should at least be tried in a civil court.”

NDTV India: Editor Sanket Upadhyay pointed out that even though Pakistan had been “humiliated” by the verdict, nothing had been said about Jadhav’s release.

Former diplomat Skand Tayal called for moderation. “Death penalty is not an imminent danger for Jadhav anymore, but it is not out of the picture entirely…It is premature to make this a celebratory occasion,” he said.

Vinod Sharma, HT‘s political editor, remained optimistic. “It is a moment of pride for India, that we could convince the ICJ on grounds of law.”

Republic: The channel was gung-ho about the verdict and flashed the headline — ‘India bludgeons Pakistan at ICJ’.

“Pakistan is behaving like a criminal state, they kidnapped Kulbhushan Jadhav from Iran and forced him to admit to a lot of cooked-up charges,” Major General (retired) G.D. Bakshi said.

“They (Pakistan) have sold the story of Kulbhushan Jadhav as the devil causing all the problems to their people,” Major (retired) Gaurav Arya said.

Ali Sarwar Naqvi, director of Pakistan’s Centre for International Strategic Studies, reminded that “ICJ rulings are always advisory opinions”.

“We are advised to grant him consular access. The ICJ does not have compulsory mandate over any sovereign country. But, Jadhav will remain in our custody and we will deal with him,” he said.

Times Now: The channel called it a “categorical win for India.” Anchor Padmaja Joshi discussed the long fight leading to the ICJ’s verdict with panelists.

Ved Malik, former army chief, credited the Narendra Modi government. “I was happy that the government took up this case of another retired soldier. The decision of the court is kind of a victory for us.”

Qamar Cheema, columnist of a Pakistani newspaper said, “If you look technically, you can see that the death sentence has not ended. The ICJ has respected the decision of the criminal court.”

“No it hasn’t. I don’t know about you, but people in India can read English,” anchor Padmaja Joshi snapped.

ET Now: Anchor Tamanna Inamdar too discussed the big diplomatic win for India.

Sushant Sareen, senior fellow at ORF, called the verdict “a slam dunk in India’s favour”. “Every single claim made by Pakistan has been demolished, effectively questioning their credibility.”

Meera Shankar, former diplomat, added, “If there is an open trial in a civil court, then remedies for legal defence will also be available. Having said that, the Pakistan court system has been known to accept nudges from the military. I’m not sure if a trial in an open court will ensure a fair trial.”

With inputs from Rachel John

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