Second deadline for India to appoint counsel for Kulbhushan Jadhav expires
The second deadline for India to appoint a legal representative for Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav expired on Tuesday, with sources in legal circles saying the Islamabad High Court (IHC) itself may now appoint a counsel after two senior Pakistani lawyers excused themselves.
Lawyers Abid Hassan Manto and Makhdoom Ali Khan excused from appearing for Jadhav, citing medical and professional grounds, respectively.
IHC had heard the case for the second time on September 3 and directed the federal government to give India “another opportunity” to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav.
Attorney general for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan informed the IHC’s larger bench that Pakistan government had not yet received a reply from India on the matter till date.
Jadhav has maintained that he does not want to take the benefit of the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020, for an effective review of the case and requested that his mercy plea, already pending before the Pakistan Army chief, be considered instead. The Pakistan parliament in September had extended by four months the ordinance, which allowed Jadhav to file an appeal against his conviction in the IHC against his conviction, as required by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ordinance was set to expire on September 17. Prior to this, the Pakistan government had approached the IHC to appoint a defence lawyer to represent Jadhav.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, in Balochistan on charges of alleged espionage, and sentenced to death by a military court the following year.
In August, the IHC formed a three-member larger bench at the government’s request to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav for his appeal against the death penalty.
Last month, Pakistan rejected India’s demand that an Indian lawyer or a Queen’s counsel be appointed for Jadhav to ensure a free and fair trial. Queen’s Counsel is a barrister or advocate, appointed Counsel to the UK Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor.
“We have repeatedly told them that only those lawyers can represent Commander Jadhav in the Court who have the license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in accordance with legal practice in other jurisdictions as well,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had said at the time. He further said that the Indian Supreme Court, in one of its judgments, had ruled that foreign lawyers cannot practice law within the country.
India maintains that Pakistan has not been able to fulfil its obligations on implementation of the ICJ judgment in letter and spirit. “It has not yet addressed the core issues, which include provision of all documents related to the case, providing unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Kulbhusan Jadhav and appointment of an Indian lawyer or a Queen’s counsel to ensure a free and fair trial,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said last month.
In 2017, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence handed to him by a military court.
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.
India has slammed Pakistan for adopting a “farcical” approach in denying available legal remedies to Jadhav against his death sentence in contravention of the ICJ order.
(With inputs from Agencies)