The Islamabad High Court on Monday ordered the Pakistan government to give “another chance” to India to appoint a lawyer for death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav and see through the review trial from the civilian court.
On Monday, a two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard a petition filed by the Pakistan government to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav.
The Pakistan government, in the petition, asked the IHC to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that it can fulfil its responsibility to see to the implementation of the ICJ’s decision.
It also claimed that Jadhav refused to file a review petition or an application to reconsider the verdict against him by the military court.
“Now that the matter is in the high court, why not give India another chance,” Justice Minallah was quoted as saying by Geo News.
The judge said that the Indian government or Jadhav may reconsider their decision pertaining to the review petition.
“India and Kulbhushan Jadhav should once again be extended an offer to appoint a legal representative” for the death row prisoner, he added.
Responding to the judge’s remarks, Pakistan’s Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan said an ordinance was issued to give an opportunity to India and Jadhav to file a review petition against the sentence.
“We will contact India again through the Foreign Office,” he said.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till September 3.
The Pakistan government had filed the review petition in the IHC on July 22.
However, the main parties, including the government of India, were not consulted ahead of the filing of the application by the Ministry of Law and Justice under an ordinance which was enacted on May 20.
Under the ‘International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020’, which was enacted on May 20, a petition for the review of a military court’s decision can be made to Islamabad High Court through an application within 60 days of its promulgation.
The ordinance was approved by the parliament last week.
The Imran Khan government had on July 27 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 faced 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 sought 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 had 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 ordinance 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 last month, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had 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 slammed Pakistan numerous times for intimidating and distressing its imprisoned citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav during the consular access granted to its officials. India has so far requested consular access 12 times over the past one year.