Hearing at ICJ: India calls for suspension of Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence, fears 'Indian national' could be executed before trial ends
Pakistan has said the Indian move to approach International Court of Justice was an attempt to divert attention from "state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan".
The Hague: India on Monday earnestly appealed to the international court to immediately suspend the death sentence awarded to alleged spy Kulbushan Jadhav in Pakistan.
As The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) began hearing Jadhav's case, India argued that human rights treated as "basics" all over had been thrown to the wind by Pakistan.
We want appropriate legal representation for Jadhav, India told the UN's main judicial body which has stayed his death sentence.
Putting up a spirited defence, lawyer Harish Salve, who led the Indian legal team at the ICJ, said that Jadhav had been framed on the basis of confessional statements extracted from him when he was in Pakistan's military custody.
India further underlined that "the situation is grave" and said there was fear that Jadhav may be executed even before the court decides the case.
Salve said the matter was "urgent and hence India approached this court" that took up the case "at such a short notice".
He told the court that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran in 2016, brought to Pakistan, presented as an alleged Indian spy and confession was extracted in a military custody.
"Pakistan did not inform India of the arrest," Salve said, pointing out that India had moved the ICJ seeking suspension of the sentence awarded to Jadhav by a military court following a "farcical trial".
The former Indian Navy officer was awarded the death sentence by a Pakistani military court last month, a year after he was arrested on espionage charges. India says Jadhav has been kidnapped and framed.
Islamabad has rejected 16 Indian requests for consular access to Jadhav, who is held at an unknown prison in Pakistan.
Salve said a communication from Pakistan dated May 12 didn't clarify what the charges against Jadhav were.
"Pakistan said Jadhav's sentence is based on credible evidence in espionage against Pakistan. India refuses these allegations. India has taken measures to ensure appropriate legal measures for Jadhav. It is not known whether Jadhav will seek clemency in the present circumstances."
He described Jadhav's trial process as "farcical" and stressed that Pakistan did not respond to Jadhav's mother's plea to see her son.
Salve cited three past similar cases in which the ICJ had intervened. These cases include Paraguay versus the US in which the court decided that the American government needed to take steps to give rights of access of a Paraguayan national.
In Germany vs the US, Salve said, the court held that execution of a German national was "an irreparable damage to justice".
Watch India's line of argument here:
— ANI (@ANI_news) May 15, 2017
Deepak Mittal, an Indian official, told the court in his opening remarks that there was a fear that Jadhav may be executed soon even before the decision of the UN court. "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 ICJ president Ronny Abraham, who presided over the proceedings, that India's repeated requests to Pakistan on consular access to Jadhav were denied.
"India learnt from press reports that the death sentence was awarded to Jadhav on the basis of an alleged confession. Pakistan has not provided the charge sheet, any documents on the case despite repeated requests.”
"It is clear that Jadhav has been denied of his right to seek legal counsel. Jadhav's parents have applied for visa to travel to Pakistan which has fallen on deaf ears."
VD Sharma, a Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry and co-agent, said Pakistan had failed to comply with all its legal obligations by denying consular access to Jadhav ever since he was arrested in March 2016.
Sharma also urged the court to restrain Pakistan from "giving effect to the sentence awarded by the military court" and to direct it to annul its decision.
The day-long hearing, which began on Monday morning, involves two sessions of an hour-and-a-half each to India and Pakistan to make their cases.
Pakistan's session will begin in the afternoon.
India had appealed against the death sentence on May 08, alleging violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by Pakistan. On May 09, ICJ gave Jadhav a lease of life.
India, in its appeal to the ICJ, had asserted that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the Indian Navy. However, it denies that he has any connection with the government.
Pakistan claims to have arrested Jadhav from its restive Balochistan province.
The ICJ was last a battleground for India and Pakistan nearly 18 years ago when Islamabad sought its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft.
(With Agency inputs)