FORMER INDIAN Navy official Kulbushan Jadhav, who is on death row on charges of spying and terrorist activities in Pakistan, has refused to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his conviction by a military court, the Pakistan government said Wednesday.
Hours later, India responded sharply and said Pakistan’s claim that Jadhav has refused to initiate review petition is a “continuation of the farce” in play for the last four years. “Pakistan is only seeking to create an illusion of remedy,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Wednesday.
Stressing that Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial and remains under custody of Pakistan’s military, the MEA spokesperson said, “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).”
He said ICJ has already held that Pakistan is in egregious violation of international law. “Government will do its utmost to protect Shri Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. To that end, it would consider all appropriate options,” he said.
Earlier in the day, in a press conference in Islamabad, 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.
The Pakistani government had allowed consular access to Jadhav twice in the past and has offered to do so again, the officials said. Authorities have also offered to arrange Jadhav’s meeting with his father and wife, they said. The AAG and DG (South Asia & SAARC) expressed hope the Indian government will respond positively to this offer.
The MEA spokesperson said, “We have been pursuing through diplomatic channels full and effective implementation of the ICJ judgment in the case of Kulbushan Jadhav. The media statement made by Pakistan today in the case seeks to mask its continuing reticence to implement ICJ judgment in letter and spirit.”
The MEA said that Pakistan has on May 20, 2020, passed an Ordinance to allow for the High Court to review the sentence awarded by their military court. “They have all along maintained that their laws allowed for effective review and reconsideration while we have protested it all along. Now, after almost a year, they have made a U-turn and issued an Ordinance to ostensibly provide for some sort of review. We have already expressed our serious concerns at the content of the Ordinance and how it violates the ICJ judgment,” the spokesperson said.
“Despite our repeated requests, Pakistan continues to deny India free and unimpeded access to Jadhav. India has repeatedly asked to allow a lawyer from outside Pakistan to appear for Jadhav in any review and reconsideration proceedings. Pakistan has denied it. Since 2017, when Military Court carried out a farcical trial, Pakistan has refused to hand over any relevant document, including FIR, evidence, court order, etc in the case to India. Clearly, Pakistan is attempting to create a mirage of compliance with the ICJ judgment,” the MEA spokesperson said.
In September last year, India’s Acting High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav in the presence of Pakistani officials following a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
After the meeting, New Delhi had said Jadhav appeared to be under “extreme pressure” to support Islamabad’s “false narrative” in his case.
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.
Later at night, Pakistan Foreign ministry said Pakistan has invited India to file review and reconsideration petition after refusal by Jadhav to do so. “…mercy petition in Commander Jadhav case is a separate process that has nothing to do with the review and reconsideration. The review and reconsideration petition can be filed by Jadhav himself or legally authorized representative, or a consular officer of the Indian High Commission. While Jadhav’s mercy petition is still pending, India is invited to file review and reconsideration petition to give effect to the Judgment of ICJ,” a Pakistan Foreign ministry statement said.
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