The Hague: Senior counsel Harish Salve on Monday tore into Pakistan while representing Kulbhushan Jadhav before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by accusing it of misusing the top court to spread anti-India propaganda and seriously violating various provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention. India’s plea came as the top UN court resumed a four-day public hearing in the case of Jadhav, 48, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage. During the first day of the hearing, India, based its case on two broad issues — breach of Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution. Also Read - It's Not How You Talk About Friends: Joe Biden Slams Donald Trump For Calling India's Air 'Filthy'
“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 March 30, 2016, India reminded Pakistan of its request of consular access (for Jadhav) and received no reply. 13 reminders were sent by India on various dates. Pakistan has violated Vienna convention by denying consular access ,” said Salve, an ex-solicitor general before the court, presided over by ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf. Also Read - India's COVID-19 Tally Climbs to 78.14 Lakh; Recovery Rate Nears 90 Per Cent | Key Points
Demanding Jadhav’s immediate release, Salve claimed that Pakistan is ’embarrassed’ to disclose its judgement in the high-profile case. “Pakistan did not disclose the date of detention as well. No document of Jadhav’s trial was given to India. Despite repeated attempts for immediate consular access Pakistan has not done that so far,” he added. Also Read - International Flights: 18 Destinations Where Indians Can Fly to; Countries Where Indians Can't Enter | Check Full List
Notably, Salve presented his arguments after both ndia and Pakistan filed memorials and counter-memorials in the case in which the ICJ had in May 2017 stayed Jadhav’s execution. Accusing Pakistan of raising issues that have no relevance to the case, Salve stated, “I consider myself honoured to present India’s case here to save an innocent Indian. The basis on which India is pursuing the case are: First issue relates to construction of the Vienna Convention, consular access was not granted.”
Salve also highlighted the the torture which Jadhav has been facing since three years inside Pakistani jail. Salve said that India has no information of what happened to Jadhav in Pakistan.
Salve further said that finding itself bereft of any substantive defence, Pakistan has raised a host of issues that do not have relevance to the issue. Pakistan runs unmerited defences. It mis-states the law, misreads commentaries and relies on material that is not recognised having any precedential value.
“Having failed in its propaganda in a feeble attempt to counter global criticism of its role in cross-border terrorism, Pakistan has sought to raise issues like India’s refusal to allow freewheeling inquiry into high functionaries without even disclosing the fundamental elements of the alleged offences that have been investigated, he added.
Salve also lambasted Pak military courts (Which has awarded death sentence to Jadhav) for its ‘opaque proceedings’.
“Pakistan has sentenced 161 civilians to death in their military courts in opaque proceedings in the last two years. International standards require that military courts like all courts must be independent, impartial and competent, and must respect minimum guarantees of fairness. But Pakistani military courts are not independent and the proceedings before them fall far short of national and international fair trial standards. Judges of military courts are military officers who are part of the executive branch of the government and do not enjoy independence from the military hierarchy,” Salve claimed before the top UN court.
He asserted that the judges of the Pakistani military courts are not required to have judicial or legal training or even a law degree, and they do not enjoy any security of tenure which are prerequisites of judicial competence and independence. “Jadhav’s trial by a military court hopelessly fails to satisfy even minimum standards of due process and should be declared unlawful,” he said.
Salve also invited the ICJ to keep in mind the relief to be granted in the backdrop of the fact that Jadhav’s trial has been conducted by a military court. “I would invite this court to keep in mind the relief to be granted in the backdrop of the fact that his (Jadhav’s) trial has been conducted by a military court. Pakistan has knowing, wilfully and brazenly violated Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. Honourable judges, I respectfully submit that consequences must follow,” Salve said, reiterating that the military court trial is unsatisfactory.
Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India first approached the ICJ on May 8, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 by Pakistan by repeatedly denying it consular access to Jadhav.
A 10-member bench of the ICJ, which was set up after World War II to resolve international disputes, on May 18, 2017 had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case. The ICJ has set a timetable for the public hearing in the high-profile case from Febraury 18 to 21 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands.
While India argued first on February 18, Pakistan will get its chance to make submissions on February 19. Then India will reply on February 20 while Islamabad will make its closing submissions on February 21. It is expected that the ICJ’s decision may be delivered by the summer of 2019.
Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor would lead the Pakistani delegation at the ICJ while Director General South Asia Mohammad Faisal would lead the Foreign Office side.
(With agency inputs)