India on Monday urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to annul Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence by a Pakistani military court and order his immediate release, saying the verdict based on a “farcical case” hopelessly fails to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process.
Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India.
India moved the ICJ in May the same year for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to the 48-year-old Indian national.
“Military courts of Pakistan cannot command the confidence of this court and should not be sanctify by a direction to them to review and re-consider the case. India seeks annulment of Jadhav’s conviction, and directions that he be released forthwith,” said Harish Salve, the lawyer representing India and Jadhav in the case at the ICJ.
The four-day trial opened Monday at the ICJ headquarters here 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 at least 41 CRPF soldiers.
“India seeks relief in declaring that the trial by the military court in Pakistan hopelessly fails to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process… And should be declared unlawful,” said Salve, the former solicitor general of India.
Noting that military courts in Pakistan are not independent, Salve said the working of such courts have been censured by the European Parliament. “A foreign detainee has the right to life, the right to a fair trial and an impartial judiciary. However, Pakistan has sentenced 161 civilians to death in their military courts in opaque proceedings in the last two years,” Salve said. He urged the ICJ to grant relief to Jadhav in the backdrop of fact that his trial has been done by a military court.