Senior lawyer Harish Salve says that his huge diplomatic and legal victory against Pakistan was all the result of a game plan very well executed.
Salve fired all the shots as the execution of retired Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was stayed by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Salve, who was India’s attorney at the hearing, told India Today TV in an exclusive video interview from London on Thursday that there was utmost emphasis on ‘secrecy’ and revealed that the work towards it had started in mid-April.
India approached the top UN court after a Pakistani military court last month sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and sabotage.
Salve said getting the ICJ jury assembled at short notice and getting an order urgently was the biggest challenge. He attributed the victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ministry of external affairs led by Sushma Swaraj.
‘It is a big victory for India and with humility I accept that my efforts have borne fruit.
‘It is a big victory for me personally as a lawyer…it was a difficult case and involved a lot of research work
India approached the top UN court after a Pakistani military court last month sentenced Jadhav (pictured) to death on charges of espionage and sabotage
‘This victory was crafted not by me but the ministry of external affairs, by their team of dedicated civil servants and it has been crafted also by Prime Minister Modi.
‘It (approaching the ICJ) was a huge step for the government to take.
‘I salute the government for this resolute decision and the way they have backed us, unconditionally, unequivocally…not a word of what I wrote was changed…everything was left to me …every minute things and aspects…as a lawyer it gave me a lot of strength,’ Salve said.
On the ‘inside story of the victory and the strategy’, he said, ‘I have a very close personal relationship with the external affairs minister… She had done the initial groundwork…had a number of meetings with the minister and the joint secretaries and we had started work from the middle of April…the big thing was secrecy as if things had leaked it would have got messy.
‘Whatever written by me was dictated by me and juniors were typing in the laptop.’
On how he managed to mobilise the ICJ make them sit at such a short notice, he said ‘I met the registrar of the ICJ to explain the circumstance …normally it is the government representatives who go and meet him.
‘But the minister insisted I go and she said ”Go and explain the case”…I went and explained the whole case and he realised it was important.
The president of the court was not even in The Hague. Yes, it was a challenge: we got the jury assembled and got an order within a span of four days…It tells us what a great institution it is and how they work.’
Asked how he planned to celebrate, he shot back in a lighter vein: ‘How do you celebrate in London?
‘Yes, by having a pint and yes I am also taking my wife out for a dinner.’
India heaved a collective sigh of relief after the world court stayed Jadhav’s execution with political leaders hailing the order and the former navyman’s friends erupting in joy and bursting firecrackers, while Salve came in for fulsome praise from Modi, Swaraj and a host of other leaders.