Hours after Pakistan claimed on Wednesday that Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who is on death row on charges of spying, had refused to file a review petition, the Ministry of External Affairs called the development a “continuation of the farce that has been in play for the last four years”.
“On June 17, 2020, Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav was invited to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction. Exercising his legal right, he refused to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction,” Pakistan media quoted Additional Attorney General as saying during a Foreign Ministry press conference.
In the press conference, the official said Kulbhushan Jadhav preferred to follow up on his pending mercy petition that he filed on April 17, 2017. The Pakistan government also announced that it had offered India consular access to Jadhav for a second time.
Reacting to the remarks, the MEA spokesperson claimed Jadhav was coerced to refuse to file a review in his case. “Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial. He remains under custody of Pakistan’s military. He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case,” the MEA said.
The MEA said Pakistan had on May 20 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,” the MEA said.
“We have already expressed our serious concerns at the content of the Ordinance and how it violates the ICJ judgment. Pakistan is only seeking to create an illusion of remedy,” the MEA further said.
The MEA also claimed that Pakistan continued 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,” the MEA said.
“Government will do its utmost to protect Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. To that end, it would consider all appropriate options,” it further said.
According to Pakistan, Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016. Jadhav was sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. In May 2017, India moved the ICJ against the “farcical trial” by Pakistan’s military court.
In July last year, the ICJ, in its verdict, directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence. The court observed that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting consular access.
In May, Harish Salve, India’s legal counsel in the case at the ICJ, had said India resorted to “back-channel” efforts to “persuade” Islamabad to release Jadhav.
The Indian Express has learnt that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had, in one of his interactions with then Pakistan NSA, Nasser Khan Janjua, “gently nudged” Pakistan to release Jadhav. Salve also said that till date, Pakistan had refused to share the FIR, the chargesheet or the military court judgment.
“We (India) have been writing to Pakistan asking them to show evidence against Jadhav (in order) to better assist him. They refuse to part with it. We will not give it to you (they say). I think they (Pakistan) have a serious problem on their hands. Other than the confession, they have nothing,” Salve had said.
Rejecting the claims, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the government had granted India consular access to Jadhav and was processing measures for effective review and reconsideration as per the guidelines provided by the ICJ in its judgment.
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