India Thursday said it was exploring legal remedies in the case relating to former Navy officer Kulbushan Jadhav, a day after Pakistan said he refused to file a review petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his conviction by a military court on charges of spying.
“At this stage, we are assessing our legal options. We will do our utmost to protect the life of the Indian national,” spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s officials said that Jadhav, who is on death row on charges of spying and terrorist activities in Pakistan, refused to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against his conviction despite being offered the option. Hours later, India called Pakistan’s claim a “continuation of the farce” in play for the last four years.
“He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case…. In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” the MEA spokesperson had said on Wednesday.
He said Pakistan is only seeking to create an “illusion of remedy” in the case, and asserted that India will do its “utmost” to protect Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India.
Pakistan’s Additional Attorney General Ahmed Irfan and Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said an ordinance was promulgated by the government on May 20, which allowed the Indian government, Jadhav and his legal representative to file a review petition in IHC within 60 days. The deadline expires July 19.
According to Pakistan’s officials, Indian authorities had requested to appoint an Indian lawyer to advocate for Jadhav but if an appeal is filed in the IHC, only a lawyer holding a license of the respective court would be able to represent him. Therefore, an Indian lawyer cannot advocate for the convicted spy but may be allowed to assist Jadhav’s counsel, it said.
In July last year, the ICJ, in its verdict, had directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence. The court had observed that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting him consular access.
Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, was arrested allegedly on March 3, 2016, and India was informed of this on March 25, 2016, when the Pakistan Foreign Secretary raised the matter with the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad. On that day, India sought consular access to Jadhav at the earliest. New Delhi then moved the ICJ in May in 2017 against the “farcical trial” by the military court of Pakistan against 48-year-old Jadhav. He was sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.