India may have to move ICJ due to Pakistan’s refusal to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, says Harish Salve

India may have to move the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to gain access to ex-naval officer

In an online lecture held on Saturday, Salve said that India was trying to secure access to Jadhav and had sent as many as 23 requests to Pakistan, but had received no response, according to a Times of India report. “We have been trying to persuade Pakistan to let him go. If they want to say they are releasing him on humanitarian grounds, they can do so. We want him back,” he Salve said, adding that the case involving the former naval officer has become an “ego problem in Pakistan”.

Salve also said that India hopes in an effort to release Jadhav, India also hopes that they will be able to persuade Pakistan through the “back-channel”. “We have come this far, they cannot now put him (Jadhav) to death. Our consular officers have to be given access,” he said.

India has been doing its best to keep the spotlight on this case, Salve said in response to a question on how it will be ensured that Jadhav does not meet the fate of Sarabjit Singh. “We have kept the glare on this case in the hope that Pakistan will not act worse than it generally does,” he said.

Recounting the proceedings of the July 2019 hearing at The Hague, Salve said, “Pakistan tried theatrics through power point presentations of his confession. They even claimed that he was given their passport by the government of India. In their FIR, they named the entire Indian security apparatus, including the home minister and intelligence agency heads. But we relied on the Vienna convention where they should have granted us consular access before his confession. We also raised the issue of human rights violation by Pakistan.”

Salve also said that India has written to Pakistan asking them for evidence against Jadhav other than a video of his confession, adding that neither the chargesheet, FIR nor the military court judgment has been shared with India. “Their domestic courts may find that sufficient. They know if it comes to a fair consideration and a fair trial, they will have no choice but to release him. Someday, we shall have him back in India,” he added.

Jadhav was arrested on 3 March, 2016 from the Balochistan province and India was informed about it on 25 March, 2016, when the Pakistan Foreign Secretary raised the matter with the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad. Meanwhile, India insisted that he was illegally detained from Iran, where he was on a business visit.

Jadhav was sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017 and a month later, India approached the ICJ against the Pakistan military court’s “farcical trial”. In January 2018, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had “gently nudged” then Pakistan counterpart Nasser Khan Janjua to release Jadhav, Indian Express reported.

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