Calling upon Pakistan to release and repatriate Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday alluded to the fact that the International Court of Justice verdict was a pre-cursor to his return.
“Mr Kulbhushan Jadhav is innocent of the charges made against him. His forced confession without legal representation and due process will not change this reality. We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith,” he said in Rajya Sabha.
The ICJ, in a 15:1 verdict, had ruled on Wednesday that Pakistan had breached the Vienna Convention by denying Jadhav consular access and stayed his execution till a “review and reconsideration” of the death sentence.
“The ICJ stayed the death sentence as a provisional measure. The court felt it had jurisdiction on this issue. A continued stay on execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the process of effective review and reconsideration,” the minister told the Parliament.
Jaishankar said the government, in 2017, had made commitment on the floor of the House to undertake all steps necessary to protect the interest and welfare of Jadhav and it “has made untiring efforts in seeking his release including through legal means in ICJ”.
Praising the retired Indian Navy officer’s family exemplary courage in dealing with the difficult situation, he assured that the government will “vigorously” continue its efforts to ensure his safety and well-being, as well as his early return to India.
He pointed out that the ICJ has directed Pakistan that it is under an obligation to inform Jadhav without further delay of his rights and provide Indian consular officers access to him in accordance with Vienna Convention.
As he called upon the House to join in appreciating the effort of the people involved, especially legal team led by Harish Salve, it was met by applause from the MPs.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he was very happy that the entire House is together in welcoming the ICJ judgement. “Hope we will pursue till Shri Kulbhushan is discharged and released,” he added.
While India welcomed the ICJ verdict and reiterated his innocence, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he appreciated the world court’s decision “not to acquit, release and return Jadhav to India”. Taking to Twitter, Khan said Jadhav was guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan and the country would proceed further as per law.