New Delhi/Islamabad, May 10 : India on Wednesday said it moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on espionage charges, to save his life after Pakistan denied consular access to it despite 16 requests which was in contravention of international law.
However, Islamabad maintained that the Indian move was an attempt to divert attention from “state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan” and that it was analysing the ICJ’s authority in the matter.
“It is a very carefully considered decision. It is a decision taken by the government in the interest of an Indian citizen who is in illegal detention and is facing threat to his life,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said here.
“This a course of action we have chosen after careful deliberation and careful consideration in the interest of saving the life and ensuring justice for a person of India,” he said.
On Tuesday, the ICJ at the Hague in the Netherlands suspended the death sentence on Jadhav by the Pakistani military court.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ICJ said: “On 8 May 2017, the Republic of India instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, accusing the latter of aegregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations’ (hereinafter the Vienna Convention’) in the matter of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan.”
“The Applicant contends that it was not informed of Mr. Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights,” the statement said.
Under Article 74, paragraph 4 of the ICJ rules, which says “pending the meeting of the Court, the President may call upon the parties to act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects”, ICJ President Justice Ronny Abraham has written to Pakistan seeking the suspension of the sentence.
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was allegedly arrested in Balochistan in March 2016. Pakistan said Jadhav worked for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
A military court sentenced him to death on April 10 on charges of espionage and waging war against Islamabad.
In his media briefing on Wednesday, Baglay said that India has been denied consular access to Jadhav despite making 16 requests to Pakistan which was a “contravention of international law”.
He said that India got “no response” from Pakistan on getting the documents of the case and the charge sheet.
He also said there was no word on the petition, appeal and visa application by Jadhav’s parents to visit their son.
Meanwhile, in the meeting in Islamabad between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani Army chief, General Qamar Bajwa, the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were also present.
Earlier, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said, India’s decision to move the ICJ to halt the death sentence awarded to Jadhav was an attempt to divert attention from “state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan”.
Asif tweeted: “Indian letter to ICJ attempt to divert attention from state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Kulbushan convicted of offences against national security.”
Reacting to the stay order, Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz said in Islamabad: “We are analysing the Indian petition and the International Court of Justice’s authority (on the case).”
Meanwhile, noted lawyer Harish Salve, who is representing India at the ICJ, said on Wednesday that the court is likely to hear India’s plea on Monday.
Salve said that “India has taken a calibrated decision” on approaching the international court and will wait to see Pakistan’s legal response.
“We are told to be there on Monday. We may have a hearing on Monday or a scheduling on Monday. We needed immediate relief. Whenever Pakistan is willing to be engaged we are ready,” the lawyer told NDTV news channel.
Salve also said that consular access to Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court, is the right of India and the Indian.
“There is a stand alone obligation for consular access, which is not just the right of the State but also the right of the accused – and that is basically meant that right from the time you are arrested in the foreign country you have the benefit of consular access,” Salve told Times Now.