India has been using back-room tactics to secure the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, Harish Salve, senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Solicitor General of India has said.
Salve was India’s counsel in the case at the International Court of justice (ICJ).
“We were hoping that through the back-channel, we may be able to persuade Pakistan to let him go. If they want to say on humanitarian grounds or whatever, we want him back. We said, let him go. Because it’s become a big ego problem in Pakistan. So, we were hoping they would let him go, they haven’t,” he told Indian Express
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval too had “gently nudged” the then Pakistan NSA, Nasser Khan Janjua, Pakistan to release Jadhav, Express reported.
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.
According to Pakistan, the country’s security forces arrested Jadhav on March 3, 2016, as he was plotting an attack.
However, India contradicts this claim and says he was abducted by Pakistani forces from Iran and is being falsely accused.
On July 17 last year, ICJ asked Pakistan to review the death sentence for Jadhav and grant India consular access to him.
The bench also ruled that Pakistan had violated India’s rights to consular visits after Jadhav’s arrest.
Two weeks after the judgment, Pakistan allowed Indian diplomats to meet Jadhav under watch, but nothing more has been done regarding his release.
“Since Pakistan hasn’t moved ahead, we may have to approach ICJ again for further consequential directions,” Salve said during an online session organised by Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, associated with the RSS.
He also added that Pakistan lacks solid proof for Jadhav’s conviction and to date have not shared the FIR, the charge sheet, or military court judgment.
“All the evidence they have is a confession by Jadhav, which cannot be taken into consideration. They cannot hang Jadhav now,” he said.
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India has been writing to Pakistan to show the evidence to provide better help to Jadhav, but they refuse to comply, added Salve, and said, “Pakistan courts may find Jadhav’s statement sufficient but if it comes to fair trial they have no choice but to release him.”
“Someday we shall have him back in India,” he said.