A top court in Pakistan on Tuesday allowed India more time to appoint a lawyer to represent death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav in the court to hear a review of his conviction and sentencing by a military court.
Jadhav, a 51-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
After hearing both sides, the Hague-based ICJ issued a verdict in July, 2019, asking Pakistan to give India consular access to Jadhav and also ensure review of his conviction.
On Tuesday, a three-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, heard the case by the law ministry regarding designating a lawyer for Jadhav.
Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan reminded the court that it had passed an order on May 5 asking the authorities to make one more effort to contact India for the appointment of a counsel.
He informed the court that the message was conveyed to India but there has been no response so far.
Khan also told the court that India wanted consular access to Jadhav in a separate room, but the authorities cannot take the risk of leaving him alone with Indian representatives. “They can cause harm to him even by just shaking hands with him,” he said.
He claimed Pakistan was making efforts for a complete implementation on the decision of review and reconsideration of the ICJ, but India was creating hurdles.
Khan said due to Indian intransigence, the government had requested the court for the appointment of a counsel. “India wants to appoint a counsel from outside but our law disallows this, and so does India’s in its own territory,” he said.
Chief Justice Minallah said that Pakistan wanted to implement the ICJ decision. “Would it not be better to give them another opportunity so they could put forth their reservations before the court,” he observed.
The judge asked Khan to convey the message to the Indian government and Jadhav. “Send another reminder to Kulbhushan and the Indian government. If India has any reservations, it may convey them here, or someone from the Indian embassy in Pakistan may convey them. That might bring forth a solution,” the judge said.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case for an indefinite period.
No progress was made on the review issue as India refused to appoint a local lawyer while demanding Pakistan to let an Indian lawyer represent Jadhav in the court.
India has asked Pakistan to address the “shortcomings” in a bill brought out to facilitate reviewing the case of Jadhav, saying the proposed law does not create a mechanism to reconsider it as mandated by the ICJ.
India has said the Review and Reconsideration Bill 2020 does not create a mechanism to facilitate effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s case as mandated by the judgement of the ICJ and the municipal courts cannot be the arbiter of whether a state has fulfilled its obligations in international law.
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