HEARINGS ON JURISDICTION OF INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE OVER PAKISTAN/INDIA AIR INCIDENT TO OPEN 3 APRIL20000224
THE HAGUE, 24 February (ICJ) -- Public hearings in the case concerning the aerial incident of 10 August 1999 (Pakistan v. India) will open on Monday, 3 April 2000, at 10 a.m. before the International Court of Justice.
The hearings, which will last a week, will be dedicated exclusively to the issue of the Court's jurisdiction to deal with the dispute.
The Court had wished to hold hearings in March, but, at the pressing request of the Parties, it has exceptionally agreed to open them later.
On 21 September 1999, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan instituted proceedings before the Court against the Republic of India in respect of a dispute concerning the destruction on 10 August 1999 of a Pakistani aircraft.
In its Application, Pakistan contends that the unarmed Atlantique aircraft of the Pakistan navy was on a routine training mission with 16 personnel on board when, while flying over Pakistan air space, it was fired upon with air-to- air missiles by Indian air force planes, without warning, resulting in the death of all 16 personnel, mostly young naval trainees. It maintains that the aircraft, when shot down, was in an area situated approximately 70 to 90 miles east of Karachi and that it was carrying out various training exercises and manoeuvres of instrument. According to Pakistan, after radar contact was lost with the aircraft at 12:06 p.m., an intensive search was undertaken by Pakistani aircraft and helicopters and the wreckage was discovered around 2:55 p.m., 2 kilometres inside Pakistan territory.
Pakistan further maintains that in the two-and-a-half hours which elapsed between the shooting down and the discovery of the wreckage, Indian helicopters sneaked into Pakistan's territory to pick up a few items from the debris in order to produce "evidence" for India's initial claim that the Atlantique had been shot down over Indian air space. However, according to Pakistan, "because of the overwhelming evidence ... Indian officials were obliged to admit that the Atlantique had indeed been shot down over Pakistan's air space".
- 2 - Press Release ICJ/596 24 February 2000
Pakistan maintains that the above-mentioned acts constitute breaches of the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force under Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations; of the provisions of the Agreement of 6 April 1991 between Pakistan and India on Prevention of Air Space Violations; and of the obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State and not to violate the sovereignty of another State.
Pakistan, therefore, requests the Court to judge and declare that the acts of India constitute breaches of these various obligations for which India bears exclusive legal responsibility and that India is under an obligation to make reparations to Pakistan for the loss of the aircraft and as compensation to the heirs of those killed.
As a basis for the Court's jurisdiction, Pakistan invoked in its Application Article 36, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Statute of the Court and the declarations whereby both States have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court. In a letter dated 2 November 1999, India stated that it had "preliminary objections to the assumption of jurisdiction by the ... Court ... on the basis of Pakistan's Application".
At a meeting held on 10 November 1999 by the then President of the Court, Judge Schwebel, with the Parties, the latter provisionally agreed to request the Court to determine separately the question of the Court's jurisdiction before any proceedings on the merits of the case. That agreement was later confirmed in writing by Pakistan. By an Order of 19 November 1999, the Court fixed 10 January 2000 and 28 February 2000, respectively, as the time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Pakistan and a Counter-Memorial by India on the question of the Court's jurisdiction.
* *** *