NEW DELHI: India said on Tuesday it would appeal to President Mamnoon Hussain among other diplomatic measures to prevent the execution of an Indian naval commander who was sentenced to death by a military tribunal on Monday for spying.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha that India would do everything to get Kulbhushan Jadhav, including approaching the Pakistani president.
Senior analyst and former Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, who has dealt with Pakistan at the foreign ministry, wrote on Tuesday that the military court route used for Jadhav’s trial precluded intervention by the Supreme Court. However, Ms Swaraj said that best lawyers would be provided to the Indian convict to appeal at the apex court.
According to Indian reports, replying to a suggestion by Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ms Swaraj said her government would not only “ensure that Jadhav is provided with the best of lawyers in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, but will take it up with the president of Pakistan also”.
“Whatever is necessary, we will do,” she said, adding that Jadhav was “not only the son of his parents, but is the son of India”.
A former diplomat says trial procedure adopted by Pakistan consistent with international practices
“There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Jadhav,” she claimed. “If anything, he is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism,” Ms Swaraj alleged while speaking to both houses of parliament.
She said that if carried out the execution would have adverse consequences for bilateral ties. “Let me state clearly that the government and the people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations. I would caution the Pakistan government to consider the consequences for our bilateral relationship if they proceed on this matter,” the minister said.
However, the court martial route provides for in-camera trial and absolves Pakistan of the requirement to provide consular access. International law has no real bearing on the situation in hand, the former diplomat wrote.
Mr Bhadrakumar, in a post on scroll.in, wrote the ministry’s contention that consular access should have been given would be tenable only if the trial had been conducted through civilian courts.
The court martial trial procedure is well laid out under the Pakistan Military Act of 1952, he said, and in turn is derived from British military laws and is consistent with international practices.
“Presumably, we did not anticipate that Pakistan was taking recourse to the court martial route,” Mr Bhadrakumar observed, urging the Indian government to engage with Pakistan to save the Indian citizen’s life and to move on to resume their diplomatic engagement to improve their ties.
Ms Swaraj claimed Jadhav was doing business in Iran and was “kidnapped and taken to Pakistan”. “The exact circumstances are unclear and can only be ascertained if we have consular access to him”, which has been denied by the Pakistani authorities.
Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government would do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2017