Two days after India urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to annul Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence given by a Pakistan military court and order his immediate release, New Delhi on Wednesday told the court that, as a last resort, it could direct Islamabad to hold Jadhav’s trial in a “civilian court” and grant him all legal recourse, including consular access.
However, India’s first plea remains that Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, should be released and provided safe passage. These options were spelt out by the Ministry of External Affairs’ Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) Deepak Mittal at the ICJ.
Watch: Kulbhushan Jadhav Case Backgrounder
As India presented its counter-arguments on the third day of hearing, counsel Harish Salve cited the example of how Ajmal Kasab, the lone 26/11 Pakistani attacker caught alive, was given legal options, including a Supreme Court hearing. He rejected an experts’ report cited by Pakistan’s counsel that a military court is “due process compliant”. On Pakistan’s argument that military courts are constituted by its Parliament, Salve said “domestic law is never a defence when it comes to international law violation”. “It is for the ICJ to decide that judicial review is a sufficient safeguard. Judicial review is insufficient, even as per Pakistan’s courts,” he said.
He criticised Pakistan counsel, Khawar Qureshi, for showing a photograph of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in court and termed it as a “weapon in propaganda”. Qureshi had quoted Doval’s statements in early 2014, before he was appointed NSA, on avenging another 26/11-style terror attack on India.
Salve said Jadhav had become a “pawn” in Islamabad’s propaganda, and called Pakistan a “state sponsor of terrorism”. Terming the Pulwama strike as a “dastardly attack”, he also cited the attack in Iran to bolster his argument. He said Islamabad provides safe haven for Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and over 30 UN-proscribed terrorists, and 20 UN-designated terrorist groups are in Pakistan.
He said while there was a “quick trial” for Jadhav, nothing has happened in the trial related to the 26/11 attacks. He quoted former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement on Pakistan being involved in the 26/11 attacks. Salve urged that consular access should be made a “human right”.
He also questioned the Pakistan’s counsel’s “tone and tenor”, since he made a veiled criticism of the ICJ’s order which restrained Pakistan from carrying out capital punishment on Jadhav. “The language echoed in this court… perhaps this court may lay down some red lines. 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,” he said.
“India strongly objects to abusive language of Pakistan’s counsel,” he said.
He said the criticism of a sovereign state must be in a language consistent with the dignity of other states. “When you are strong on law, you hammer the law. When you are strong on facts, you hammer the facts. And when you are strong on neither, you hammer the table… Pakistan has hammered the proverbial table. India has hammered facts,” he said.
Pakistan is scheduled to present its counter-arguments on Thursday. India’s demand to nullify the Pakistan military court’s decision indicates a marked shift from its plea in May 2017, when New Delhi had asked for “immediate suspension” of the death sentence.