The Imran Khan government on Monday evening tabled the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Review and Re-consideration Ordinance 2020 in relation with former Indian Navy commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, in the National Assembly, even as it faces intense heat from the opposition on the issue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser Babar Awan presented the bill in the National Assembly.
The ordinance seeks to allow alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav the facility to file an appeal in a high court against his conviction. The government maintains that this is necessary in view of the ICJ’s ruling in June last year, in which it had asked Pakistan to give Jadhav consular access while hearing an appeal filed by India against the death sentence handed to him through a military court trial process.
The ordinance has become a bone of contention between the opposition and the government with former terming it a reprieve to Jadhav, who is a death-row convict, and latter saying the action is based in ICJ’s ruling. The opposition likened the proposed legislation to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf issued NRO in 2007 to granted amnesty to politicians, and bureaucrats facing cases. The country’s Supreme Court declared NRO unconstitutional in 2009.
Pakistan has claimed that it arrested Jadhav on 3 March 2016 when he attempted to cross over into the country from the Saravan border in Iran in pursuit of targets set by his RAW handlers. New Delhi has rubbished Pakistan’s claim, asserting that the Indian national was abducted by Pakistani agencies from Iran where he was running a business.
Pakistan subsequently conducted a farcical trial of Jadhav in a military court and sentenced him to death. Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, had endorsed the death penalty for Jadhav in April 2017. Following this, India approached the ICJ.
The world court on July 17, last year, ordered Pakistan not to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav and directed “effective review and reconsideration” of his conviction and the sentence awarded to him by a military court.
The world court, while rejecting all objections raised by Pakistan, directed it to grant consular access to Jadhav “without further delay”, while holding that it had “breached” the Vienna Convention in this regard by denying him this right.
Meanwhile, the Imran Khan government’s move comes days after New Delhi admonished Islamabad saying that Pakistan has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available for India in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.
During one of his weekly briefings, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), but also of its own ordinance.
“Pakistan has completely failed to provide the remedy as directed by the ICJ and India reserves its position in the matter, including its rights to avail further remedies,” he said.
India has so far requested consular access 12 times over the past one year. However, Pakistan has not provided an unimpeded consular access yet. The meeting of consular officers with Jadhav on July 16 was “scuttled by Pakistan authorities”, Srivastava said.
The consular officers, he said, were instructed not to hand over any document to Jadhav. As a result, the Indian consular officers could not obtain a power of attorney from Jadhav.
India has repeatedly requested Pakistan for relevant documents related to the case of Jadhav. Pakistan advised India that the relevant documents could be handed over only to an authorised Pakistani lawyer. Thereafter, India appointed a Pakistani lawyer to obtain the relevant documents.
“To our surprise, as advised by the Pakistani authorities, when the authorised Pakistani lawyer approached the concerned authorities, they declined to handover the documents to the lawyer,” the spokesperson said.
In the absence of an unimpeded and unhindered consular access as well as the relevant documents, as a last resort, India tried to file a petition on July 18. “However, our Pakistani lawyer informed that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case of Jadhav,” he said.
Pakistan, the spokesperson said, also created confusion over the last date of filing a petition. Initially, they indicated that a petition has to be filed by no later than July 19. Subsequently, Pakistan indicated that the time limit to file a review petition shall expire on July 20.
Knowing the inadequacies and shortcomings in the ordinance, India had already shared its concerns earlier this month, including a considerable delay in informing India about its promulgation, with the Pakistan authorities.
“Pakistan took two weeks to inform us about this ordinance and shared the copy of the ordinance only after India requested for the same,” Srivastava said.
India, he added, has conveyed that the ordinance neither fulfils nor does it give complete weight to the judgment of the ICJ.
“With regard to the ordinance, it seems, Pakistan was non-serious in its approach and was not interested in implementing the judgment of the ICJ in letter and spirit,” the government spokesperson said.
The whole exercise of not providing any document related to the case even after repeated requests, not providing an unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the high court on part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan’s approach, Srivastava said.
India has slammed Pakistan numerous times for intimidating and distressing its imprisoned citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav during the consular access granted to its officials.
(With agency inputs)