Making its final arguments at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday, India urged the top UN court to annul the decision of a Pakistani military court awarding death sentence to ex-Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and direct fair trial in a civilian court. India’s agent and Joint Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs Deepak Mittal also asked the court to grant full consular access to Jadhav, who was arrested in Balochistan in 2016 on charges of espionage.
Beginning the second round of oral arguments, former solicitor general Harish Salve strongly objected to the abusive language used by Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi at the hearing on Tuesday and asked the court to draw a red line.
“The transcript is peppered with words such as shameless, nonsense, disgraceful, arrogant… India takes exception to being addressed in this fashion in an international court. Indian culture prevents me from using similar language,” Salve said.
Contending that Jadhav had become a “pawn” in Pakistan’s tool to divert international scrutiny from itself, Salve said the former Navy officer had been sent to the gallows on the basis of “extracted confession”. “Pakistan’s three attempts to derail proceedings in the ICJ have failed,” he said.
Responding to Pakistan’s assertion that India never established Jadhav was an Indian national, Salve said his biodata clearly mentions that he was former Indian Navy officer. “This would be the proof of his Indian nationality. Unlike Pakistan, Indian nationals are not the kind whose nationality needs to be denied,” Salve said.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi said India was required to prove Jadhav’s nationality in order to get him diplomatic protection. “India has failed to explain why Jadhav was allowed to travel for 17 times on fake passport. India never established that Jadhav is an Indian national. The burden of proof has shifted to India to prove or disprove the passport issue,” Qureshi had said.
Salve further said if Jadhav had been involved in subversive activities, irrespective of whether or not he had an Indian passport, he would have been tried for espionage. “Pakistan had no doubt that when they arrested Jadhav that he was an Indian national… if Pakistan so closely believes Jadhav’s confession, why do they doubt his nationality?” Salve said.
On Qureshi’s claim that Jadhav had confessed that he was a serving officer due to retire in 2022, Salve said Pakistan had no proof beyond the extracted confession of the ex-Navy man.
“India has repeatedly asked for a copy of the judgment convicting Jadhav and the charges against him. There would be no threat to the security of Pakistan if they share these documents,” Salve said. He also said that Pakistan’s case against Jadhav on the basis of his passport was yet to be investigated by India.