Calling the ICJ verdict a vindication of its stand, India on Thursday called upon Pakistan to release and repatriate Kulbhushan Jadhav, a day after the International Court of Justice asked the neighbouring country to review and reconsider its verdict of conviction and death sentence imposed on him.
“Jadhav is innocent of the charges levelled against him. No forced confession, that too without legal representation and due process, will change this fact. We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a suo motu statement in both the Houses of Parliament. He said the government will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Kulbhushan Jadhav’s safety and well being, as well as his early return to India, adding that the judgement is not only a vindication for India and Jadhav but for all those who believe in the rule of law and sanctity of international conventions.
Amid thumping of desks by the members including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders, Jaishankar said the government welcomed the world court’s verdict.
“The House, I am sure, will join me in this landmark judgement. The sentiments, I express in this matter, are those of the entire House and indeed of the entire nation,” he asserted.
Jaishankar, a former diplomat, said the ICJ pronounced that Pakistan had breached relevant obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relation.
“It did so by not notifying India, without delay, of the detention of Jadhav, thereby depriving us of the right to render Consular assistance. The ICJ has directed that Pakistan is under an obligation to inform Jadhav without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officer’s access to him in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the ICJ by a vote of 15-1, upheld India’s claim that Pakistan is in violation of the Vienna Convention on several counts. “The sole dissenting judge in Jadhav case was from Pakistan,” the EAM asserted, adding that all others stood with India in the case.
Underlining that government has made untiring efforts in seeking his release, including through legal means in ICJ, he said, “In 2017, the government made a commitment on floor of the House to undertake all steps necessary to protect interest and welfare of Jadhav and we will continue to do so.”
The Minister praised Jadhav’s family for showing “exemplary courage” in difficult circumstances, assuring them his return to the country soon. He also hailed the efforts of the legal team under senior counsel Harish Salve, who represented India in the case.
Soon after the EAM concluded, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah said that the entire House welcomed the verdict and also hailed senior counsel Harish Salve for appearing in the case without fees in the cause of the country.
“I am very happy that the entire House is together in welcoming the ICJ judgement. Hope we will pursue till Shri Kulbhushan is discharged and released,” he said.
In a major win for India, the ICJ on Wednesday continued its stay on the execution of the Indian national, held in a Pakistani jail on allegations of spying, and called for an effective review and reconsideration of the conviction.
Jadhav, 49, was purportedly “arrested” from Balochistan by Pakistani security forces on March 3, 2016, after he allegedly entered the country from Iran, as claimed by Islamabad.
India has held that Pakistan, which faces several problems on its border with Iran, has been using Jadhav’s case to blame India for its problems in Balochistan. It has used proxy groups such as Jaish al Adl against Iran, while Iranian officials have spoken of Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror activities along the Iran-Pakistan border.
It was on March 25, 2016, that then Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, had informed the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad of Jadhav’s “arrest.”
Since then, Pakistan has not offered any explanation as to why Islamabad took over three weeks to inform the Indian High Commissioner about Jadhav’s arrest.
Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on April 11, 2017. Following this, India on May 8, 2017, approached the ICJ against Pakistan “for egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963” in the matter.
India alleged that Pakistan is in breach of Article 36(1) (b) of the Vienna Convention, which obliged Pakistan to inform India of the arrest of Jadhav “without delay”. (ANI)