NEW DELHI: Expressing apprehensions about the execution of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, India on Monday demanded consular access to him at the International Court of Justice contending that a Pakistan’s military court has awarded him death sentence through a “farcical trial”.
Eminent lawyer Harish Salve and Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Deepak Mittal led India’s charge against Pakistan in the UN’s highest judicial body. India contended that the situation was urgent as it was afraid that Islamabad might hang Jadhav even before the hearing was over. The charge was denied by Pakistan in its arguments later in the evening where it contended that the hearing was “not necessary” as Jadhav was found guilty on charges of espionage and subversive activities and hence does not fall under ICJ’s jurisdiction.
"Jadhav has not got the right to get proper legal assistance and the right to consular access. There is an immediate threat to him to be executed even before a decision is passed," Mittal told the court in his opening remarks. India’s decision to move ICJ over an issue with Pakistan has come after nearly after four decades. India’s main contention is that it was denied its consular rights to its national and accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna convention and conducting a "farcical trial" without a "shred of evidence".
"The execution of the death sentence cannot be done while this court is hearing the appeal. Else, it will be a violation of the Vienna Convention," lead attorney Harish Salve said. Pakistan has turned down India’s requests for consular access 16 times. Highlighting this and invoking Article 36 of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Salve said: "The graver the charges, the greater the need for continued adherence of the Vienna Convention. Jadhav has been in judicial custody without any communication with his family.” India has called the trial ‘farcical’ as it was not provided chargesheet against Jadhav, neither was he provided with defence counsel; and New Delhi came to know about his death sentence from the media. Human rights treated as "basics" all over had been thrown to the wind by Pakistan and the trial had been vitiated, India argued.
Replying to India’s arguments, Pakistan later said that India has not responded to the evidence of Indian Passport. Pakistan also requested to show a confessional video of Jadhav but it was turned down by the court. Islamabad said that the Permanent-5 was informed about the case. Calling the petition as unnecessary, Pakistan said that 150 days has been provided to Kulbhushan from 10 April to 10 August to file an appeal in the case.
Pakistan has claimed to have arrested Jadhav from Balochistan, something vehemently denied by India that claims that the former naval officer was kidnapped from Chahbahar port in Iran.