SC seeks govt response on plea of Kargil hero’s father

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre's views on raising the issue of the reported torture of Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia, in captivity of the Pakistan Army in 1999, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) while observing that the "door is still open" for the government to do so. The court was hearing a petition by the martyr's father, N K Kalia.

A Bench led by Justice R M Lodha issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response within 10 weeks on the petition. In his petition, N K Kalia, a retired scientist, has sought directives to the ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs to move a plea before the ICJ for exposing the torture that resulted in the death of his son. He has also asked the government to get Pakistan to apologise for the incident that went against all norms of the Geneva Convention.

The apex court sought a reply from the Centre even as it wondered if it was within its jurisdiction to pass directions of the nature the petition had pleaded and that the issue also required determination of questions of law.

"We fully share your agony. But what is the role of the court? Can we direct India to take up with the International Court of Justice? It is the highest court and our orders should be within the four corners of the Constitution. This is an important issue. If the government wants it can take up the issue with the ICJ and there is no need for our interference," it said.

Advocate Arvind K Sharma, however, requested the court to at least seek a response from the government as to what steps it had taken in the last 13 years and also on the representations submitted by N K Kalia. Accepting this, the Bench issued notices to ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and External Affairs and sought their response within 10 weeks.

The court also tagged this plea with another petition pertaining to the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan pending with it.

"We tag the case with other matter as it involves question of very wide ramifications, internationally. If direction is needed within the country, then there is no problem. Before any order is passed by this court, there should be absolute clarity that we have got the jurisdiction. There is already a matter pending pertaining to a treaty between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi (Shimla Agreement). Can the court issue mandamus in a matter like this? They are covered by a treaty, where consent of both the states is required," said the Bench.

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