Pakistan passes bill to help Kulbhushan Jadhav appeal against death sentence
The Pakistan government on Wednesday pushed through a bill to help Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav appeal against the death sentence given to him by a military court during a joint session of Parliament that was marred by protests by the opposition.
The International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Act of 2021 is on the same lines as an ordinance issued last year by the Pakistan government to facilitate Jadhav’s right to appeal against the death sentence given to him for alleged involvement in espionage and subversive activities.
Experts said the law would not make a material difference to the case of Jadhav and was more about meeting legal requirements so that he could mount a proper appeal in Pakistani courts. The law allows a foreign national to file a petition in a Pakistani high court for review and reconsideration of a conviction or sentence given by a military court.
It was one of several bills passed during a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad that saw a walk-out by opposition lawmakers. The opposition was particularly angered by amendments to the Election Act of 2017 to allow the use of electronic voting machines and to give voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.
The opposition MPs tore up official papers and shouted slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government.
Pakistan’s law minister Farogh Naseem moved the bill to give effect to the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s 2019 judgement seeking a review and reconsideration of the death sentence given to Jadhav. The government decided to introduce the bill at the joint session of Parliament as it was passed by the National Assembly or lower house in June this year, but was not passed by the Senate or upper house within the mandatory period of 90 days.
After India approached the ICJ, the court said in its judgement that “Pakistan is under an obligation to provide, by means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav” in view of the violation of his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 in Balochistan on charges of spying and sentenced to death the following year. India rejected the charges levelled against the former navy officer and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business. The ICJ stayed Jadhav’s execution in 2018.
India also asked Pakistan in June to remove shortcomings in International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Act, saying it does not create a machinery to facilitate effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s case as mandated by the ICJ.