The Hague: India accused Pakistan of misusing the International Court of Justice for propaganda.  The top UN court began the four-day public hearing in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Jadhav had been sentenced to death by Pakistan military court on charges of espionage.

On the first day of hearing, India based its case on two issues; breach of Vienna Convention on consular access, and the other on the process of resolution.

Ex-solicitor general Harish Salve representing India said that it is unfortunate that the life of an innocent Indian is at risk. "Pakistan's story is solely based on rhetoric and not facts," he added. He also stated that Jadhav's custody without consular access should be declared unlawful.

"There is no manner of doubt that Pakistan was using this as a propaganda tool. Pakistan was bound to grant consular access without delay," he said. India had sent 13 reminders to Pakistan for consular access to Jadhav but Islamabad is yet to accede.

Pakistan claims that Jadhav was arrested by security forces from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he allegedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that Jadhav had been kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after his retirement from the Navy. Jadhav's sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India.

During the hearing, Salve said that Pakistan filed the FIR almost a month after Jadhav's arrest. "Jadhav was arrested in March but the FIR was filed in April and in May Jadhav was interrogated. India sent reminders for consular access across May, June and July," said Harish Salve.

He also went on to say that Pakistan is embarrassed to disclose charges against Kulbhushan Jadhav. Salve pointed out that through it all, Pakistan had not, for once, informed Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights.

A ten-member bench of the International Court of Justice had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav on May 18, 2017, till adjudication of the case. The ICJ has set a timetable for the public hearing in the Kulbhushan case from February 18 to 21 at the Peace Palace in The Hague in Netherlands.

While India argued first on February 18, Pakistan will argue on February 19, to which India will reply on February 20. Finally, on Feb 21, Islamabad will make its closing statements.

The ICJ judgement is expected to deliver its judgment by the summer of 2019.