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Open to moving ICJ on Saurabh Kalia case if SC allows: Government

Open to moving ICJ on Saurabh Kalia case if SC allows: Government

New Delhi: The government said on Monday it will be open to moving the International Court of Justice, if the Supreme Court allows it, on the brutal torture of Indian Army officer Saurabh Kalia by Pakistani forces during the Kargil war of 1999.

The external affairs ministry statement came in response to media reports regarding the government's stand in the Supreme Court on the case filed by the family of Capt. Kalia.

Ministry spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, said in a statement that India has "conventionally held the position that India and Pakistan cannot invoke the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in relation to disputes concerning armed conflicts, hostilities etc and as they are both members of the Commonwealth".

"This position, which was stated in the affidavit filed by the government on September 26, 2013, has now been reviewed. Government will be requesting the Supreme Court to pronounce on the legality of the stand, taking into account the exceptional circumstances.

"Subject to above, government would be open to invoking the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice," he said.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the government will seek the Supreme Court's permission to move the ICJ on the issue.

"We will go to the international court if the Supreme Court allows it," she told reporters.

She said the government would change its affidavit in the top court accordingly.

"We shall ask the apex court about what we can do. If they allow us to approach the ICJ, then we shall do so," she said.

The government's response came after Saurabh Kalia's father, N.K. Kalia on Monday accused the National Democratic Alliance government of not doing anything about his son's case. The previous Manmohan Singh government had clarified its stand in the Supreme Court in November 2013 that it will not treat Kalia's torture by Pakistani troops as a war crime.

The central government had filed its response in the case in the apex court, saying it had no intention of taking up the issue under the Geneva Convention. N.K. Kalia said the same stand was being pursued by the present Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The elderly Kalia, settled in the tea garden town of Palampur, about 220 km from Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla, has filed a plea with the apex court for issuing directions to the government that his son's torture by the Pakistan Army be referred to the ICJ. He is pinning hopes on the top court where his petition has been listed for next hearing on August 25.

Capt. Kalia, of the 4 Jat, was the first Indian army officer to report the incursion by the Pakistan army on Indian soil in Kargil region. He and five soldiers - Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh - were on patrol at the Bajrang Post in Kaksar sector of Jammu and Kashmir when they were taken captive by the Pakistani army on May 15, 1999 and tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities on June 9.

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