As the deadline for filing a review plea against Kulbhushan Jadhav”s death sentence neared, a senior Pakistani Opposition Senator has criticised the government for not tabling in Parliament an ordinance promulgated in May to allow a foreign national to file a petition for the reconsideration of a military court”s verdict.
The issue of the ordinance was raised in the Senate by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Raza Rabbani when a minister was about to present in the upper house the COVID-19 (prevention of hoarding) Ordinance after a delay of almost three months, Dawn newspaper reported on Thursday.
Pakistan enacted an ordinance called the “International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020” on May 20 under which a petition for the review of a military court”s decision can be made to Islamabad High Court through an application within 60 days of its promulgation.
Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July last year 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.
Last week, Pakistan”s Additional Attorney General Ahmed Irfan said that on June 17, 2020, Jadhav was offered to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction.
He said the Pakistan government promulgated an ordinance on May 20 to let the Indian government, Jadhav or his legal representative to file a review petition in IHC within 60 days. The ordinance would expire on July 19.
Rabbani said the inordinate delay in laying the (COVID) ordinance promulgated back on April 17 had not only affected the right of the house to move a resolution for its disapproval but also amounted to breach of privilege.
Likewise, he said, the ICJ Review and Reconsideration Ordinance had been promulgated on May 20, but it, too, had not been presented in any house of Parliament.
He pointed out that the Senate met from June 5 to June 24 and the National Assembly from June 5 to June 30 and the two houses were again in session from July 8 and July 13, respectively, but these ordinances had not been tabled before Parliament even now.
He said the minister concerned must give an explanation for the delay.
Rabbani said that under the ordinance any foreign national, authorised representative or counsellor officer of the commission could file a review and reconsideration petition against the judgement of a military court before the high court within 60 days after the promulgation of the ordinance.
He asked the foreign ministry to explain if the concession was being availed by anybody as more than 50 days had already passed.
Rabbani said that the minister concerned did not even mention the ICJ review and reconsideration ordinance at all and he just said that Covid-19 ordinance was meant to avert the threat of hoarding during the pandemic.
He also criticised the government for announcing the resumption of the Afghan Transit Trade through the Wagah border on the Kashmir Martyrs Day.
He asked the foreign minister to brief the house on implications for the region of Iran’s reported decision to drop India from the Chabahar Port project and Tehran’s new strategic alliance with China.
The Deputy Chairman of the Senate, Saleem Mandviwala, who was chairing the session, said that nobody would object if it was a good ordinance, but there should be no unnecessary delay in laying the ordinance in the house, according to Dawn newspaper.
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.
India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.