Harish Salve .... The man behind India's victory at ICJ

Kulbhushan Jadhav and Harish Salve

New Delhi, July 17: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday evening delivered a verdict in India's favour in the case of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan on charges of spying.

India's arguments in the case were put forward by senior counsel Harish Salve.

One of India's top lawyers, Salve reportedly charges high fees for his services. However, the senior lawyer charged only Re 1 to fight Kulbhushan's case.

"Not fair. Harish Salve has charged us Rs.1- as his fee for this case (sic)," former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said in a tweet at the time.

Salve reportedly voluntarily offered to charge the nominal fee to argue India's case on behalf of Jadhav.

Earlier in his career, Salve had successfully argued India's case at the ICJ against a bid by Marshall Islands to sue India for violating the nuclear disarmament obligations.

Thanks to Salve's efforts, the ICJ overwhelmingly ruled in favour of India by a margin of 15 votes to 1 on Wednesday.

The ICJ asserted that Jadhav’s death sentence should remain suspended until the Pakistani authourities effectively review and reconsider Jadhav's sentence in light of Pakistan’s denial of consular access and notification which is a breach of Article 36(1).

The ICJ has also underlined the Indian's right to consular access.

Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj took to social media to welcome the ICJ verdict.

"I wholeheartedly welcome the verdict of International Court of Justice in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. It is a great victory for India. I thank the Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi for our initiative to take Jadhav's case before International Court of Justice," Swaraj wrote on Twitter.

Jadhav, an Indian national, has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan on charges of spying, a claim rubbished by India.

Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was kidnapped by Pakistani agencies on March 3, 2016, from Iran where he was in connection with his business.

Pakistan, however, claimed that Jadhav was "arrested" in its restive province of Balochistan and labeled him as a "spy". Pakistan informed India about it through a press release on March 25, 2016, 22 days after he was picked up.

India, as per the international diplomatic norms, immediately sought consular access to Jadhav on the same day and several times thereafter but it was not granted.

Jadhav, who hails from Powai area of Mumbai and is 49-year-old now, was put to trial in a military court, instead of a civil court, and a death sentence was pronounced against him on April 10, 2017 following an opaque trial.

After repeated appeals to Pakistan to release him failed, India moved the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 8, 2017, accusing it of "egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" in the matter.

Rubbishing Pakistan's claim that Jadhav was a "spy", India contended before the world court that it was not informed of his detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan also failed to inform the accused of his rights.

It further told the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, that Pakistan, in violation of the Vienna Convention, denied India its right of consular access to Jadhav despite its repeated requests.

India told the ICJ that it learned about the death sentence against Jadhav from a press release.

In its petition to the ICJ, India sought immediate suspension of the death sentence awarded to Jadhav and his release, while asserting that it was a "brazen defiance" of the international law and provisions of the Vienna Convention which guarantee certain civil and political rights to a prisoner.

India sought direction to the Pakistan government to annul the decision of the military court, failing which the ICJ should declare the sentence "illegal", being violative of the international law and treaty rights.

It asked the world court to restrain Pakistan from acting in violation of the Vienna Convention and international law by giving effect to the sentence or the conviction in any manner.

India said the violation by Pakistan of the Vienna Convention prevented it from "exercising its rights under the Convention and has deprived the Indian national from the protection accorded under the Convention".

It said Jadhav's execution would cause "irreparable prejudice" to the rights of India or Jadhav.

On May 18, 2017, the ICJ asked Pakistan to "take all measures at its disposal" to ensure that Jadhav is not executed, pending its final judgment in the case.

In its order indicating provisional measures, which was adopted unanimously, the ICJ also stated that the Pakistan government shall inform it of all measures taken in implementation of that order.

Later in December that year, Pakistan allowed Jadhav's mother and wife to meet him in a Pakistani jail, an event which India said "lacked any credibility".

India said the overall atmosphere of the meeting was "intimidating" as Jadhav's mother and wife were not allowed to speak to him in their mother tongue Marathi and that they were forced to change their clothes. The wife's shoes were not returned.

Jadhav had met his mother and wife for about 40 minutes - through a glass panel - at the Foreign Office in Islamabad, but the Pakistan government did not allow a private discussion between them.

In a meeting described as a "grand gesture" by the Pakistan government on the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Jadhav, who Pakistan claims is an Indian spy, came face to face with his 70-year-old mother Avanti and wife Chetankul after a gap of 22 months.

Separated by a glass partition in the heavily-guarded building, they spoke through an intercom watched by the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh who escorted them to the meeting.

India has maintained that Jadhav was tortured in the Pakistani jail and an alleged "confession" was extracted from him through coercion.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing India during a public hearing in the case in the ICJ, said Pakistan had no clinching evidence against Jadhav.

News24 Bureau with agency inputs

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