Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered Monday the Pakistan government to give ‘another chance’ to India to appoint a lawyer for death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav. This development was reported by the Pakistani media here. Kulbhushan 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.
India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence. The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 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.
A two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard Monday a petition filed by the Pakistan government to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav.
The Pakistan government, in the petition, asked the IHC to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that it can fulfil its responsibility to see to the implementation of the ICJ’s decision. It also claimed that Jadhav refused to file a review petition or an application to reconsider the verdict against him by the military court.
“Now that the matter is in the high court, why not give India another chance,” Justice Minallah was quoted as saying by ‘Geo News’. “India and Kulbhushan Jadhav should once again be extended an offer to appoint a legal representative for the death row prisoner,” he added.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till September 3.
The Pakistan government filed July 22 the review petition in the IHC. However, the main parties, including the government of India, were not consulted ahead of the filing of the application by the Ministry of Law and Justice under an ordinance which was enacted May 20.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava last month said Pakistan has once again exposed its ‘farcical’ approach by denying available legal remedies to Jadhav against his death sentence which is also in contravention of the ICJ verdict, and asserted that it will explore further options in the case.
Srivastava said Pakistan has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available to India in the case, while noting that New Delhi has so far requested consular access to Jadhav for 12 times over the past one year. The MEA spokesperson said Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own ordinance.