Free Press Journal

SC fiat to Govt on Prisoners of War


New Delhi: Supreme Court today had a word of caution for the government that any deviation from its stand that the issue of Indian Prisoners of War (POWs) languishing in Pakistani prisons cannot be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will have its own ramifications.

“Government of India’s stand has been that the issue cannot go to the ICJ. Can it change the stand now? It will have its own ramifications,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and R Bhanumathi observed.

The remarks came after the bench wanted to know from government’s counsel R Balasubramanian whether the ICJ has any jurisdiction to go into the issue.

He said the Centre has taken a stand that ICJ has no jurisdiction on the issue. The bench was told that in the past Pakistan had taken some of the issues to ICJ. The bench was hearing a batch of petitions raising the issues of POWs, the brutality meted out to Saurav Kalia during Kargil War and the beheading and mutilation of bodies of two Indian soldiers in 2013 by Pakistani army, for a direction to the union government to move the ICJ.

It was also hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging Gujarat High Court order directing the union government to move the ICJ on Pakistan illegally detaining 54 Indian armymen in breach of an agreement between the two countries after the 1971 war to exchange all POWs.

The bench today admitted the appeal of the Centre against the High Court order. The apex court had in 2012 stayed a Gujarat High Court order.