New Delhi: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar said in Parliament on Thursday that India wanted Pakistan to immediately “release and repatriate” imprisoned former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and assured the House that the government would “vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Jadhav’s safety and well-being as well as his early return to India”. He added that “Jadhav is innocent of the charges levelled against him”.
Later Thursday evening, external affairs ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the verdict of the International Court of Justice on Wednesday was a “vindication of India’s position”. New Delhi expects Islamabad to immediately India grant consular access to Jadhav. “Pakistan has been asked (by the ICJ) to provide consular access to Jadhav and they have to do it,” the MEA spokesman said.
It may be recalled that a Pakistani military court had on April 10, 2017 sentenced former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on charges of “espionage and sabotage”. Islamabad had claimed Mr Jadhav was “apprehended by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016 after he illegally crossed over into Pakistan”, and that he had been engaging in “espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities aimed at destabilising and waging war against Pakistan”. But New Delhi has consistently rubbished these claims as false and baseless. India had argued that Mr Jadhav was “kidnapped from Iran, where he was carrying on business after retiring from the Indian Navy, and was then shown to have been arrested in Balochistan” on March 3, 2016.
In a major victory for India in the high-profile Kulbhushan Jadhav case on Wednesday, the ICJ at The Hague on Wednesday held Pakistan guilty of violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations for its failure to give India consular access to the imprisoned former naval officer while directing Pakistan to provide “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” (of death penalty) awarded earlier by a Pakistani military court to Jadhav.
The ICJ also held that the “continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of Jadhav.
On Thursday evening, the MEA spokesman said: “The ICJ judgment is a complete vindication and validation of India’s position in this case.” He also lashed out at Pakistan for claiming victory in the case, saying Islamabad has its own compulsions to “lie” to its people. “Frankly, it seems to me they (Pakistan) are reading from a completely different verdict. The main verdict is of 42 pages. If there is no patience to go through 42 pages, they should go through the press release, where each and every point is in favour of India,” said Mr Kumar, referring to Pakistan’s claims of victory.
In Parliament, Mr Jaishankar said: “Kulbhushan 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. I am confident that the House will join me in expressing its strongest solidarity with Shri Jadhav’s family. They have shown exemplary courage in difficult circumstances. I can assure you that the government will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Shri Jadhav’s safety and well-being (and) his early return to India.”
“We made it clear even at that time that India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen could face a death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law and justice... The ICJ delivered its judgment on the Jadhav case yesterday, 17 July 2019. Significantly, the court unanimously found that it has jurisdiction on the matter and by a vote of 15-1 pronounced on other key aspects of the case. The sole dissenting judge was from Pakistan. The court pronounced that Pakistan has breached relevant obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Consular Relations. It did so by not notifying India without delay of the detention of Shri Jadhav, thereby depriving us of the right to render consular assistance. Pakistan was also found to have deprived India of the right to communicate with Shri Jadhav, have access to him, visit him in detention and arrange his legal representation... The House, I am sure, joins me in welcoming this landmark judgment,” the external affairs minister told Parliament.