New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today reserved its order on a plea for a direction to the government to approach the International Court of Justice for the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national who is on the death row in Pakistan.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra said it will pass an order on the petition, which the Centre said was “not a public interest litigation” and the government has already taken steps to secure Jadhav’s release.
Additional Solicitor General(ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), submitted that the “subject matter raised in the petition before the court is already under consideration by the ministry concerned and it has already assured the nation for his release.”
“Even the External Affairs Minister, going out of the way, has announced in the floor of Parliament that every possible action will be taken to bring back Jadhav,” he said.
The ASG also said the issue should be left to Parliament and its members as it was a rare occasion that members of both the Houses, cutting across party lines, have condemned the act of the Pakistan military court.
Government is doing its best and taking steps, the ASG said, adding that if the government was not doing anything, the petitioner could have come to the court.
The court was hearing a petition filed by social activist Rahul Sharma who sought direction to the MEA and the MHA to approach the ICJ to provide consular access to Jadhav, saying the former Naval officer has not only been illegally detained but also wrongly awarded capital punishment.
Besides the government opposition to the petition, the bench also sought to know from the petitioner’s counsel Gaurav Kumar Bansal whether they have approached the government with their suggestion.
“We are also concerned as it is a serious issue, but you (petitioner) could have suggested measures instead of walking to the court,” the court observed.
It further asked the petitioner whether he is aware of any other incident where Indians have been withheld in other countries.
“We will pass our order today,” the bench said.
The Pakistan army chief had on April 10 confirmed the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, a 46-year-old former Naval officer, by a Pakistani military court after he was convicted of “espionage”.
The plea also said that the Pakistan military has failed to provide fair trial to Jadhav, adding that government should issue protocol for release of Indians abducted/kidnapped in other countries.
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