Pakistan has blocked review of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case, says India
India on Thursday accused Pakistan of blocking all avenues for an effective review of the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in spying, and said it reserved its rights to avail of further remedies.
A day after the Pakistan government petitioned the Islamabad high court to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav for filing a review petition against his death sentence, the external affairs ministry charged Islamabad with systematically blocking access to the former naval officer, not providing documents related to his case and violating the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order for a review of his conviction.
“[Pakistan] has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available for India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a weekly briefing.
“Pakistan has completely failed to provide the remedy as directed by the ICJ and India reserves its position in the matter, including its rights to avail of further remedies,” he said, without giving details.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that India would take the next step after legal consultations. They didn’t preclude the possibility of again approaching the ICJ on Jadhav’s case.
The Pakistan government promulgated an ordinance on May 20 to give foreign citizens convicted in the country the right to file a review petition in courts. The ordinance was aimed at complying with ICJ’s order for effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction and sentencing by a Pakistani military court.
But even here Pakistan’s actions had led to confusion, Srivastava said. Pakistan created confusion over the last date for filing a review petition, initially saying it was July 19 before changing the date to July 20. Pakistan took two weeks to inform India about the ordinance and shared the copy of it only after a request from New Delhi.
India conveyed its concerns about “inadequacies and shortcomings in the ordinance” with Pakistan in June. It also informed Pakistan the ordinance “neither fulfils nor does it give complete weight to the judgment of the ICJ”, Srivastava said.
India also made repeated requests to Pakistan to provide documents related to Jadhav’s case and was told they could be handed over only to an authorised Pakistani lawyer. “Thereafter, India appointed a Pakistani lawyer to obtain the relevant documents. To our surprise...when the authorised Pakistani lawyer approached the concerned authorities, they declined to hand over the documents to the lawyer,” he added.
In the absence of unhindered consular access to Jadhav and the documents, the Indian side tried, as a last resort, to file a review petition in Islamabad high court on July 18. “However, our Pakistani lawyer [said] that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case of Jadhav,” said Srivastava.
Indian officials had walked out of a meeting with Jadhav on July 16 after Pakistan breached assurances about providing unimpeded consular access. “The meeting of consular officers with Jadhav on July 16 was scuttled by Pakistan authorities. The consular officers were instructed not to hand over any document to Jadhav. Hence, the officers could not obtain a power of attorney from Jadhav,” he said.
Srivastava said Pakistan was “non-serious in its approach and was not interested in implementing the judgment of the ICJ in letter and spirit”. He added, “The whole exercise of not providing any documents related to the case even after repeated requests, not providing unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the Islamabad high court on the part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan’s approach,” he said.
Jadhav, 50, was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan in March 2016 and charged with involvement in spying. In April 2017, Pakistan announced he had been sentenced to death by a military court.
The ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and stayed his execution while calling for an “effective review and reconsideration” of his sentence.
India has rejected the allegations against Jadhav and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business.
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