New Delhi: The first battle won at the International Court of Justice - the stalling of the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav - former Solicitor General Harish Salve said India has two plans to get justice for the 46-year-old former Naval officer. The first involves a request for outright release amid what he called an "evolving jurisprudence". The other -- a longer route that goes through Pakistani courts.
"The international court is not a court of appeal where we show his innocence," Mr Salve told NDTV. "It is a court where we say the procedure which Pakistan had adopted to arrive at this death sentence violates the principles of Vienna Convention which is a multilateral treaty."
One of the leading legal brains in the country, Mr Salve had not only led the battery of lawyers to structure India's case, but also made a nearly one-and-a-half-hour presentation at the International court in The Hague earlier this week. Yesterday, the court agreed to the contentions and asked Pakistan to hold off the execution of Mr Jadhav till it reached its final verdict.
Accepting India's contention, the court also said Pakistan had illegally withheld consular access to Mr Jadhav, whom it accused of spying. The Vienna Convention has provisions for consular access to accused even in cases of terror and espionage, the court said.
Talking of the road ahead, Mr Salve said the Plan A is the option to argue that such "eggregious violation of human rights must compel the man being released". The senior advocate, however, said it is an option that only "adventurous lawyers like me" would try.
Mr Jadhav, who, India says was abducted from Iran where he was running a business, has been in the custody of Pakistan since March. He has been on the death row and incommunicado. India, Mr Salve said, can argue that he has suffered enough and deserves to be released.
The other option, he said, was to demand for an annulment of the death sentence. "Get him proper legal representation and then let him be tried in a manner acceptable to civilised society," he said. "I am satisfied today that court has accepted most of which we put forth," Mr Salve added.
India saw yesterday's interim order as a significant win. Pakistan however, said it had "not changed the status of Jadhav's case in any manner". Pakistan's Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali's office said they were determined to take the case to "its logical end".
After the verdict, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "I assure the nation that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we will leave no stone unturned to save Kulbhushan Jadhav."