OVER THE last three years, a team of India’s diplomatic and legal minds joined forces to make New Delhi’s case at the ICJ. From then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Senior Advocate Harish Salve, Joint Secretary Deepak Mittal, Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan J P Singh, Additional Secretary V D Sharma and Advocate Chetna Rai — the team behind India’s efforts at the ICJ cut across age, gender and experience.
Leading the way was Swaraj, who was in touch with Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family, bureaucrats, lawyers and the top Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Wednesday, she said, “I wholeheartedly welcome the verdict of ICJ… It is a great victory for India. I hope the verdict will provide the much needed solace to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav.”
Salve made India’s case at the hearings effectively, especially at the February 18-21 public hearings this year. A former Solicitor General of India, he crafted India’s legal response and used his knowledge of international law.
Then Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who is now the External Affairs Minister and the current foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale maintained regular updates.
Deepak Mittal, MEA’s Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran), followed the case from the beginning, going through the legal arguments and shaping India’s diplomatic response. It was his idea to consistently push for consular access. This became India’s main point of argument. Mittal, who was in the PMO before moving to the MEA, helped smoothen the intra-government conversations.
Vishnu Dutt Sharma, who heads the MEA’s legal division, bridged the gap between the diplomats and lawyers. He liaised with Salve’s team and worked on the petitions to the court.
Chetna Nayantara Rai and Arundhati Dattaraya Kelkar, junior counsel for India at the ICJ, are both Salve’s juniors. J P Singh, Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, was key to the strategy since he was the only diplomat to have seen Jadhav when his family members met him in December 2017. Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Secretary, MEA, played a key role in drafting the petitions.