India on February 20 questioned the functioning of Pakistan's notorious military courts and urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to annul Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence, which is based on an ‘extracted confession’. Jadhav, 48, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of ‘espionage and terrorism’ after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India.
“Annul the decision of the military court and restrain Pakistan from giving effect to the (death) sentence. Release Jadhav and ensure his safe passage to India. If not then direct a trial under normal law before civilian courts with full consular access,” Deepak Mittal, Joint Secretary, the Ministry of External Affairs, told the ICJ judges. Making the final submission in the ICJ on the third day of the hearing, Mittal requested the top UN court to declare that Pakistan acted in breach of Article 36 of Vienna Convention, failed to inform Jadhav of his rights and declined consular access to him.
“India requests this court to adjudge and declare that Pakistan acted in egregious breach of Article 36 of Vienna Convention,” he said. Harish Salve, who was representing India in the case, also said that the time has come for the ICJ to make Article 36 a potent weapon for protecting human rights. Salve said Pakistan has continued to misuse the opportunity provided by the ICJ in the Jadhav case. “Apart from showing propaganda, Jadhav has become a pawn in Pakistan's tool to divert international scrutiny from itself,” Salve said in his arguments during which he mentioned the ‘dastardly’ terror attack in Pulwama and another in Iran last week by Pakistan-based terror groups. He also said that Pakistan is under pressure from the Financial Action Task Force over terror financing.
“There was a time when the world respected Pakistan, today the world doesn't have the same respect for Pakistan in its own incarnation,” Salve said, taking a dig at Pakistan's counsel Khawar Qureshi, who on Tuesday said ‘he has great respect for India but not its present incarnation.’ India moved the ICJ in May 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav. The four-day hearing in the Jadhav case opened Monday amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers. The ICJ is expected to deliver its verdict in the summer of 2019.
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