With retired Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav getting a reprieve from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday, Indian lead counsel Harish Salve now aims to ensure that he gets a fair trial in keeping with Pakistan's constitution and is eventually cleared of all charges.
"I am gratified as a lawyer. I feel a sense of relief with the verdict. The court said there is no question of execution, and so I am very happy," he said.
India had dragged Pakistan to the ICJ after a military court in the neighbouring country sentenced Mr Jadhav to death on charges of "espionage and terrorism" in April 2017. However, in its verdict delivered on Wednesday, the world court asked Pakistan to make an "effective review and reconsideration" of the death penalty and grant him consular access as demanded by India.
While Pakistan claims that its security forces had arrested the 49-year-old retired Navy officer from Balochistan on May 3, 2016, after he entered the country from Iran, India says he was kidnapped from Iran. Pakistan has been refusing consular access to Mr Jadhav, terming it as a ploy by the Indian government to procure information gathered by its "spy".
However, Harish Salve would not comment on the possibility of Pakistan reviewing Mr Jadhav's sentence in a civil or military court, saying that it was too early for that. "The proverbial ink has not dried on the judgment yet, so I think it's still too early to ask if India knows what's going to happen next," he told NDTV.
According to Harish Salve, the ICJ also ruled that timely updates on the case should be provided to India. "The point is: The court has clarified what is meant by 'without delay'. It said that the three weeks Pakistan took earlier amounted to undue delay, and is by itself a breach of the Vienna convention. The message is clear," he added.
The ICJ's decision to grant India consular access will also help Mr Jadhav to a great extent, Harish Salve said. "People from our consulate can now meet him, talk to him, help him prepare his defence. They can also make sure that he's in good health, and if he needs something, they can help him with that. They can check if he is being looked after well in jail, and if there's anything inconsistent, they can deal with that," he told NDTV.
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