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India expects ICJ relief for Kulbhushan Jadhav amid Pakistan trial gaps, access denial

India has sought annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence and his immediate release, saying the verdict it failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 15, 2019, 11.51 PM IST
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BCCL
Kulbhushan Yadav
Pakistan, on its part, accused India of using the ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save Jadhav from execution.
NEW DELHI: India is hoping for a favourable verdict at The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday in the case pertaining to its national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan on charges of spying for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.

Rubbishing Pakistan’s claims that Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Pakistan’s Balochistan province, India has said that the retired Indian Navy officer was kidnapped from Iran, where he was running a business. India has based its case on two broad issues – breach of the Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution.

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017 on charges of espionage and terrorism. The ICJ in The Hague has asked Pakistan to hold off the execution till it reaches its final verdict in the case.

India has sought annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence and his immediate release, saying the verdict it failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process. In December 2017, Jadhav’s mother and wife travelled to meet him in Pakistan.

India called the exercise “lacking in any credibility” and said the “overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating”. Jadhav’s mother and wife were forced to change their clothes and not allowed to speak in their mother tongue, and his wife’s shoes were never returned, the external affairs ministry said.

The verdict is slated to come days after the meeting on Sunday between India and Pakistan at the Wagah border to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor. It will come ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US visit next week and US-Russia-China deal on Afghan peace process in which Pakistan is playing a critical role.

There is a possibility that the ICJ may ask Pakistan to hold a fresh trial of Jadhav in the background of two cases involving Indians in Pakistani jails. Sarabjit Singh, who was given the death sentence on charges of espionage, died in an attack by other inmates after languishing in jail for 22 years.

Yadav

Mumbai techie Hamid Ansari was released last year from the Lahore jail after India’s intervention.

In February, India presenting its case in the Jadhav case in ICJ, asserting that Pakistan had nothing beyond an extracted confession.

Representing India advocate Harish Salve said, “Pakistan claims to have clinching evidence on the basis of articles in the Indian press. The story contradicts facts in Pakistan’s FIR.”

Responding to Pakistan’s questions about Jadhav’s nationality, Salve said that Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, which is proof of his nationality. “Unlike Pakistan, India has never needed to deny nationality of its nationals. Indian nationals are not the kind whose nationality needs to be denied.” He argued that Pakistan had made three attempts to derail proceedings in the ICJ, all of which failed.

He said Pakistan did not uphold Article 36 of the Vienna Convention which states that consular access applies to all nationals, regardless of espionage claims.

Salve said that the ICJ had already upheld the importance of consular access under Article 36 in two previous cases — LaGrand (Germany vs USA) and Avena (Mexico vs USA).

Pakistan, on its part, accused India of using the ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save Jadhav from execution.
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