THE HAGUE, Netherlands — India took Pakistan to the United Nations’ highest court Monday in an attempt to save the life of an Indian naval officer sentenced to death last month by a Pakistani military court after being convicted of espionage.
“India believes that the farcical nature of proceedings and unjust trial by a Pakistani military court in egregious violation of the rights of consular access … has led to (a) serious miscarriage of justice,” Deepak Mittal, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, told judges at the International Court of Justice.
Pakistan insisted that the International Court of Justice did not need to impose emergency measures.
India claims that Pakistan breached a long-standing international convention on consular relations by not granting Indian officials access to Kulbhushan Jadhav after his arrest last year. India wants Islamabad to take steps to annul the military court verdict, and if that is not possible it asked the world court to declare the verdict illegal and order Pakistan to release Jadhav.
“It is clear that Mr. Jadhav has been denied the right to be defended by a legal counsel of his choice. He has not been informed of his right to seek consular access,” Mittal said, adding that the conviction and death sentence appeared to be based on a confession made while “in captivity without proper legal representation.”
Asian neighbors Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations, and Jadhav’s death sentence has further strained ties.
Pakistani representative Mohammad Faisal accused India of using the court as “a stage for political theater.”
Faisal showed judges a copy of an Indian passport he said Jadhav was carrying at the time of his detention, which bore the name Hussein Mubarak Patel, calling it an “obvious indication of covert and illegal activity.” He said Jadhav “has confessed to having been sent by India to wage terror on the innocent civilians and infrastructure of Pakistan.”
Pakistan lawyer Khawar Qureshi also told the court that a 2008 bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India allows either country to decide on consular access in cases involving “political or security” issues.
The case is likely to take months or years to resolve, so India is asking the world court to immediately order Pakistan to “take all measures necessary” to prevent Jadhav’s execution pending the final outcome.
The court’s president already has written to Pakistan urging it to take no action that could affect the hearings — effectively a request to prevent the death sentence being carried out.
Faisal told judges that instead of imposing emergency measures, they could schedule a hearing on the merits of the case within six weeks.
Pakistani officials have said that Jadhav has the right to appeal to a military appeals court or petition the army chief for mercy. Also, under the constitution, Pakistan’s president could pardon Jadhav.
Pakistani officials say Jadhav has been linked to 1,345 deaths in acts of terrorism in Pakistan, making secret trips to Pakistan from Iran before his arrest in 2016.
Court President Ronny Abraham said that judges would rule on India’s request as soon as possible.