The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun hearing India’s plea over the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian who has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan on charges of espionage.
Harish Salve, ex-solicitor general oF India, who is representing India at the Hague, argued before the ICJ yesterday that as a foreign detainee, Jadhav has a right to life, right to fair trial, and a right to an impartial judiciary. He pointed out that the military courts in Pakistan have sentenced over 161 civilians to death in opaque proceedings in the last two years.
As per reports, Salve argued that international standards demand that military courts, like all courts, should be impartial, competent and must adhere to the minimum standards of fairness. However, Salve added, the military courts in Pakistan are far from independent. “Judges in the military courts are military officers who are an executive branch of the government itself and do not enjoy independence from the government hierarchy.”
Salve further added that in Pakistan, it is not mandatory for the judges of the military court to have a judicial or legal training or even a law degree. There are no security tenures either which are a prerequisite to ensure judicial competence and independence.
Salve added further that Jadhav’s trial by a military court hopelessly fails to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process and should be declared unlawful. He asserted that Pakistan actively uses its military courts to try civilians and it has been done by amending their constitution.
Salve also argued before the court that by holding Jadhav’s trial in a military court, Pakistan has willfully and brazenly violated article 36 of the Vienna convention.
It is notable here that Pakistan’s military courts were first set up in 2015 for two years to ensure speedy trials after the Peshawar Army school attack. In 2017, the tenure of the courts was extended for another two years.
In the four years of their existence, the courts have convicted 617 people for terrorism-related offenses. 346 people have been given death sentences and 271 have received prison sentences. 56 people have already been hanged.
However, due to the obscurity that the Pakistan government maintains over the proceedings of the court, no one knows who the convicts are, what are the exact charges being brought against them or what are the defenses the accused have been allowed to present against the charges.
In another development, Deepak Mittal, the joint secretary of MEA and Venu Rajamony, India’s ambassador for the Netherlands refused to shake hands with Anwar Mansoor Khan, the attorney general of Pakistan. Both Mittal and Rajamony offered a customary ‘Namaskar’ to the Pakistani AG.
Diplomats have their way of talking. At the ICJ, both India’s envoy to Netherlands Venu Rajamony and MEA JS PAI Deepak Mittal refused to shake hands with the Pak side before the proceedings began. Customary Namaskar was offered. In mourning can’t shake hands with terror nation. pic.twitter.com/nI9YBNrqTy
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 18, 2019
Mittal and Rajamony’s humble refusal to shake the outstretched hand of the Pakistani AG soon grabbed nationwide attention and was hailed by many on social media as a silent and polite message of disapproval from the diplomats to the enemy nation.
Deepak Mittal, You are an Indian Hero!
This is a diplomatesq *One Tight Slap* pic.twitter.com/os3Hc3mo3y
— LCA Tejas (@Leopard212) February 18, 2019
No handshakes with terroristan!
Well done Deepak Mittal Ji, Joint secretary @MEAIndia
He smartly avoided the hand shake with Pakistan’s AG Anwar Mansoor Khan at the ICJ today while #KulbhushanJadhav hearing.#IndianArmyOurPride pic.twitter.com/AtvC94gIFJ
— ||Nidhi?||?? (@NidhiLovesGod) February 18, 2019
Kubhushan Jadhav, an Indian national and ex-Navy officer, employed at the Chabahar port in Iran, was abducted at the behest of the Pakistani military in 2016. Pakistan had claimed that they had arrested Jadhav from Balochistan. A Pakistani military court had sentenced Jadhav to death on April 2017. On May 2017, the ICJ had ordered a stay over the death sentence after hearing India’s appeal.