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India’s fear, Kulbhushan Jadhav could be executed before ICJ trial ends

India on Monday demanded the immediate suspension of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence, expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was over.

According to PTI news report in Times of India , India’s forceful submission was made as the ICJ began hearing the case of the 46-year-old former Navy officer who was arrested on March 3 last year and sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and subversive activities.

Battling Pakistan in the UN’s highest judicial body, India said the situation was grave and urgent, prompting it to approach the court “at such short notice”.

“Jadhav has not got the right to get proper legal assistance and the right to consular access. There is an immediate threat to him to be executed even before a decision is passed,” joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs Deepak Mittal told the court in opening remarks.

Eighteen years after the two neighbours last faced off at the ICJ – when Islamabad sought its intervention over the shooting down of its naval aircraft – India took up the issue of consular rights to its national and accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna convention and conducting a “farcical trial” without a “shred of evidence”.

“The execution of the death sentence cannot be done while this court is hearing the appeal. Else, it will be a violation of the Vienna Convention,” lead attorney Harish Salve said.

The urgent hearing comes after the ICJ last week stayed Jadhav’s execution. While India presented its argument over 90 minutes, Pakistan, which claims that Jadhav is an agent of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), gets its turn later in the day.

Pakistan had denied India its 16 requests for consular access, Salve said. “The graver the charges, the greater the need for continued adherence of the Vienna Convention. Jadhav has been in judicial custody without any communication with his family,” he said.

The rights of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations are sacrosanct, Salve said, citing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that recognises that no one can be arbitrarily deprived of their lives.

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