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'A Lot of Hope': ICJ Verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav a Victory of Rule of Law, Says Harish Salve

The senior advocate said that he hoped Pakistan would fully comply with the judgment and that its conduct will be under watch in case it chooses to "brazenly violate" the ruling in any way.


Updated:July 17, 2019, 10:46 PM IST
'A Lot of Hope': ICJ Verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav a Victory of Rule of Law, Says Harish Salve
Senior advocate Harish Salve. (Image credit: Twitter@harishsalvee)

London: The ICJ verdict calling for the consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and making it incumbent upon Pakistan to ensure an effective review of its legal processes is a victory of the rule of law that has "gladdened our hearts", India's lead counsel in the case Harish Salve said on Wednesday.

The senior advocate said that he hoped Pakistan would fully comply with the judgment and that its conduct will be under watch in case it chooses to "brazenly violate" the ruling in any way.

"There is relief, satisfaction and a lot of hope. The judgment has restored our faith in the rule of law, in the ICJ and in the systems which we as mankind put together to protect the citizens of the world, Salve said.

"We had challenged the conduct of Pakistan in its brazen refusal to adhere to the Vienna Convention and allow consular access to Mr Jadhav... The court found Pakistan guilty of internationally wrongful acts and that it must cease those acts," he said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan must make an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and death sentence of Indian national Jadhav and grant him consular access, in a victory for India in the high-profile case.

Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" after a closed trial in April 2017.

A 16-member bench led by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf by 15-1 votes ordered an "effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav".

Asked about the measures India has at its disposal to ensure the verdict is complied with, Salve said it is important to be "positive" after such a positive ruling.

He, however, added that any violations of the order would mean taking things back to the ICJ to seek further instructions. Sanctions in the United Nations Security Council and other remedies could also come into play.

"Their conduct is under watch and any farcical attempts will not go unnoticed...The power of all the courts is the power of public opinion. And if a country decides to behave rogue and not comply, there are measures available," Salve said.

The senior lawyer noted that it was a "degree of personal satisfaction" for him that he did not resort to the kind of adjectives used by Pakistan in trying to accuse India of state-sponsored terrorism during the course of the hearings, except to describe them as "unfortunate".

"I had told the court that my upbringing and India's traditions do not allow me to reply in that language," he said, adding that the vindication came in the form of the ICJ rejecting Pakistan's allegations against India of abuse of the process.

Salve admitted that while India's ambitious call for an annulment of Jadhav's death sentence was not met, the court had been categorical in its verdict that Pakistan must do everything to make the Vienna Convention a living reality.

The government of Pakistan must ensure all necessary "review and reconsideration" measures, including "legislative" means. "It is a good moment for us to help Jadhav get justice and ensure he gets a fair trial," Salve said, indicating that the next steps would involve access to the Indian national by India's consular officials in Pakistan, who will then be able to ensure he gets full legal representation.

The ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, held public hearings in the case from February 18 to 21 at the Peace Palace in The Hague after India had moved the ICJ in May 2017.

The judgment was handed down at a public sitting at the Peace Palace, during which Judge Yusuf, President of the Court, read out the court's ruling.

While Pakistan had claimed that Jadhav was taken into custody after he illegally entered Balochistan from Iran in March 2016, India says that he was abducted from Iran where he had business interests in Chabahar and maintains his innocence.

A 10-member ICJ bench had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till the case was adjudicated on and that sentence remains suspended.

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