The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is holding a public hearing in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case from Monday at The Hague, Netherlands, where India and Pakistan are presenting their respective arguments before the top UN court.
The public hearing is expected to go on for four days.
The Indian side is being represented by Harish Salve, while, for Pakistan, Khawar Qureshi will present the case.
The hearing comes three days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel lost their lives. Since then, the relations between the two South Asian neighbours are under great strain.
Kulbhushan Jadhav case
Kulbhushan Jadhav is an Indian national. The Pakistan government claims that he was arrested on March 3, 2016, during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan, on charges of “terrorism and spying” for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). While Indian foreign ministry contended that Jadhav had been “kidnapped from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly.”
Pakistan said Jadhav was a serving commander in the Indian Navy and was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan. The Indian government acknowledged Jadhav as a former naval officer but denied any current links with him and maintained that he took premature retirement and was abducted from Iran.
A Field General Court Martial in Pakistan sentenced Jadhav to death on April 10, 2017, which was stayed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 18, 2017.
Harish Salve, starting his argument, told the ICJ that Pakistan has no substantive defence and is indulging in malicious acts, adding that Pakistan’s acts are “an egregious violation of the Vienna Convention.”
The main points made by Harish Salve:
- Jadhav’s continued 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
- On 30th March 2016, India reminded Pakistan of its request of consular access (for Jadhav) and received no reply. Thirteen reminders were sent by India on various dates
- On 19th June 2017, India responded to the request for assistance in the investigation and pointed that not only Jadhav had been denied consular access but no credible evidence have been provided by Pakistan to show his involvement in any act of terrorism and his (Jadhav’s) purported confession clearly appears to be coaxed. India reminded Pakistan that it’s Pakistan government which hasn’t ratified SAARC convention on legal assistance in criminal matters
- Pakistan offered to allow Jadhav’s family to visit him, the terms were agreed and the meeting was held on 25th December, 2017. India was dismayed at the manner the meeting with Jadhav’s family was conducted and wrote a letter on 27 December marking its protest
- Pakistan should’ve provided a substantial explanation for why it needed 3 months for providing consular access, upon which it could’ve claimed that it has complied with treaty obligation. Even on erroneous premise that para 4 applies, Pakistan hasn’t complied treaty obligations
- If article 36 grants rights of consular access in all cases including where allegations of such kind are leveled, then demanding those can’t be an abuse of those rights
- I would invite this court to keep in mind the relief to be granted in the backdrop of the fact that his trial has been conducted by a military court
- Pakistan’s conduct doesn’t inspire confidence that Jadhav can get justice there. Pakistan has in custody an Indian national who has been publicly portrayed to be a terrorist and Indian agent creating unrest in Balochistan. Pakistan used Jadhav to build a narrative against India
- India invites the court to restrain Pakistan from acting on conviction on the ground that it was secured by means which was in violation of Article 36 of Vienna Convention and in the present case, relief of review and re-consideration would be highly inadequate, considering facts and circumstances
- India submits that military courts of Pakistan can’t command the confidence of this court and shouldn’t be sanctified by a direction to them to review and re-consider the case. India seeks annulment of Jadhav’s conviction and directions that he be released forthwith
Proceedings adjourned in the International Court of Justice for Tuesday, February 19.
(With agency inputs)