Delhi HC refuses to interfere in Kulbhushan Jadhav case

| | New Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said it would not interfere with the process relating to the release of death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav from a Pakistani jail, as the Government was taking all steps to safeguard his life.

The Pakistan army chief had on April 10 confirmed the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, a former Naval officer, by a Pakistani military court after he was convicted of “espionage”.

A Bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra observed that at a time when the entire energies of the Government are required to be devoted to addressing such a serious matter, this petition has sought to “divert our attention”.

“We have no doubt at all that the respondent (Central Government) are best placed to take the decisions, as also all appropriate steps to safeguard the life and liberty of the citizens of this country...

“In view of the above, as the concerns raised in petition are being addressed by the respondent, no intervention by us in the matter is called for,” the bench said.

The High Court accepted the stand of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain that the Union of India was making every possible endeavour with urgency to get Jadhav back.

“We find no reason to disbelieve the submission made by ASG when he informs this court that every possible endeavour is being made by the Government of India to safeguard the life and liberty of its citizen,” it noted.

The bench noted that the matters “involved are of such sensitivity that it would be inappropriate and impermissible to have a discussion in an open court room, especially about the Government’s efforts to secure justice for its citizens”.

“More importantly, any revelation regarding the efforts being made by the respondent may prejudice their success or frustrate the steps in this regard,” it said.

It also said that the petition appeared to be “an attempt to seek disclosure of highly confidential matters” regarding which secrecy has to be maintained for ensuring the safety of the life and liberty of the naval officer.

“In a situation having so many contours involving urgency and sensitivity, such attempts deserve to be discouraged right at the outset, especially when they may jeopardise the efforts of the respondent,” it added.

The court’s order came on a social activist’s plea for direction to the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the release of Jadhav.

The petitioner Rahul Sharma had also urged the court to ask the Government to approach the ICJ for providing consular access to Jadhav, saying the former Naval officer has not only been illegally detained by Pakistan but also wrongly awarded capital punishment.

He had also complained that no protocol stands issued by the Government for release of Indian citizens who have been abducted/kidnapped in other countries.

The court observed that petitioner is “presumptuous that there can be a straitjacket formula which can be applied in every instance of abduction or kidnapping of Indian citizens abroad.

“During the course of hearing, he has himself pointed out the wide divergence in the situations that may arise when he refers to a kidnapping of Indian citizens by Somali pirates (when the government admittedly succeeded in securing release) and to the case in hand. Therefore, this matter best deserves to be left to the expertise and assessment by the government,” it added. 



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