Kulbhushan Jadhav Case at ICJ: India Reiterates Demand For Annulment of Pakistani Military Verdict, Consular Access
A screengrab of Advocate Harish Salve as he speaks at the International Court of Justice during a public hearing in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav (Photo Credits: ICJ Website)

Hague, February 20: India reiterated its demand for annulment of Pakistan military court's verdict that awarded death penalty to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and sought consular access for him as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) began the second round of public hearing on Wednesday. "India urges ICJ to annul the decision of Pakistani military court, a direct fair trial in civilian court and grant full consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav," Deepak Mittal, representative of the Indian government, said.

Appearing on behalf of India, eminent counsel Harish Salve said that the time has come for the ICJ to make Article 36 a potent weapon for protecting human rights. In his arguments, Salve blamed Pakistan for engaging in state-sponsored terrorism and cited the dastardly attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, by Pakistan-based and UN-proscribed group killing 40 CRPF troopers. Jadhav, 48, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. Three Reasons Why Pakistan's Demand of ‘Actionable Intelligence’ on Pulwama Attack is Laughable.

"On 14 February a dastardly terror attack was carried out by Pakistan-based and UN-proscribed entity killing 40 Indian security personnel. This has received global condemnation. America even called on Pakistan," India's counsel Harish Salve told 16-member ICJ Bench headed Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia. Pakistan has been engaging in "state-sponsorship of terrorism by including and allowing its territory to train, arm, finance, and launch terror attack against its neighbours. Some of these incidents include the Pulwama attack," he said.

"Jadhav has become a pawn and a convenient tool for Pakistan to divert global attention away from its own conduct," Salve said as he argued for the immediate release of the detained Indian national Kulbhushan Jadha, detained on espionage charges in Pakistan. Imran Khan Responds to Pulwama Attack, Says ‘Pakistan Will Retaliate If India Wages War’.

Salve said that Pakistan is used as a safe haven by UN proscribed terrorist entities like al-Qaeda, LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network et al and individuals like JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. “There was a time when the world respected Pakistan, today the world doesn’t have the same respect for Pakistan in its own incarnation,” Salve said, taking a dig at Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi, who on Tuesday said ‘he has great respect for India but not its present incarnation.’

Salve said that Jadhav has been sent to gallows on the basis of “extracted confession”. “Jadhav’s trial was completed in 4-6 months or weeks…What happened to the 150 people killed in the Mumbai terror attacks?” Salve asked as he raked up the Ajmal Kasab case to highlight the meaning of judicial review. “In Kasab case, the LeT terrorist who was apprehended and caught red handed by brave police officers, the Supreme Court of India examined materials on record first-hand since it was the case of death sentence. This is called review,” he said.

He also objected to the abusive language used by Pakistan’s counsel in the case, urging the UN court to draw a redline. Counsel Qureshi’s transcript is “peppered with words such as shameless, nonsensical, laughable, breathtaking and arrogance. India takes exception to being addressed in this fashion. I would let the matter rest as Indian culture prevents me from indulging in a similar language of insults,” he said.

India moved the ICJ in May 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav. The four-day hearing in the Jadhav case opened Monday at the ICJ headquarters in The Hague amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

On Thursday, Pakistan will submit its final arguments. The ICJ is expected to deliver its verdict in the summer of 2019. (With agency inputs)