Islamabad, Sep 15, 2020: Pakistan’s parliament has extended by four months an ordinance that enables Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal his conviction in a high court, in accordance with a ruling of the International Court of Justice.
The International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, issued in May, was set to expire on September 17. It allows Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court over alleged espionage, to file an appeal against his conviction in the Islamabad high court.
In August, the court had directed the government to inform India to appoint a lawyer for the former Indian Navy officer in order to file a review petition.
The court on September 3 heard the case for the second time, and directed the government to give India “another opportunity” to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav. The case will now be heard in October.
The direction came after the Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan informed the high court’s larger bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah, justices Aamer Farooq and Miangul Hassan Aurangzaib, that the Pakistan government had not yet received a reply from India on the matter.
He said Jadhav had maintained that he does not want to take the benefit of the ordinance for an effective review of the case, and requested that his mercy plea, already pending before the Pakistan Army chief, be considered instead.
He added that despite the passage of a month since the high court directed the government to offer another chance of legal representation to New Delhi, no reply had been received.
On August 6, the court formed a three-member larger bench at the government’s request to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav for his appeal against the death penalty.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had directed the Registrar’s Office to form a larger bench in a written order. The court had also directed the government to make another offer to India and Jadhav through the foreign office to hire a lawyer.
The court said in its order that it was refraining from appointing a lawyer for Jadhav. It added that the government of Pakistan should inform Jadhav about his rights under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.
The court further observed that Jadhav be informed about the decision of the ICJ, adding that he be made aware of his rights under the ordinance. Pakistan should also inform India of this court order, it added.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan on charges of espionage, and condemned to death by a military court the following year.
On July 16, Pakistan provided consular access to Jadhav, but the Indian government said the access was “neither meaningful nor credible” and he appeared visibly under stress. The Ministry of External Affairs said Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, which called for an effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentencing of Jadhav, but also of its own ordinance.
Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said that Pakistan systematically blocked all of India’s attempts to seek remedies for Jadhav.
India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based court ruled last July that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.