–AGP says govt is ready to make the offer again, and will contact India through FO
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday asked the government to offer India another opportunity to appoint a lawyer for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) spy Kulbhushan Jadhav .
A two-member special bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb was hearing the government’s plea seeking the appointment of a legal representative for Jadhav. Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan appeared before the court on behalf of the government.
AGP Khan told the court that Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, for entering Pakistan illegally. The spy confessed to his links with RAW and his involvement in espionage and terror activities in Pakistan, Khan said, adding that Jadhav was convicted by a military court that sentenced him to death in 2017, and his appeal for mercy is pending before the Chief of Army Staff.
According to the AGP, in 2017 India approached the International Court of Justice and claimed that Jadhav was denied consular access. India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and denying consular access to the spy, said the AGP. “The ICJ issued a restraining order on the death sentence that is applicable till date,” he added.
In July 2019, the ICJ ruled that Pakistan must grant consular access to India without any delay and at the same called for the “effective review and reconsideration” of the Jadhav case. At the court’s inquiry, the AGP said that Pakistan is abiding by all international laws. Pakistan has never violated international law, he said, adding that an ordinance has been issued in compliance with the ICJ’s ruling.
“If the accused cannot find a lawyer for himself, the court provides a lawyer for him to protect his rights,” said the AGP. To which the court said that now that the matter is before the IHC, why not give India and Jadhav another chance to appoint a lawyer for the arrested Indian spy.
The AGP said that the government is ready to make the offer again, and will contact India through the Foreign Office.
The court adjourned the hearing till September 3, 2020.
In view of the ICJ judgement, the federal government had promulgated the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020 on May 20 for an effective review of the case. The ordinance read that a foreign national — either themselves or through their authorised representative or through a consular officer of mission of their country — might file a petition before a high court for a review and reconsideration in terms of Section 3 of an order of conviction/sentence of a military court operating under the Army Act 1952.
It is also stated that the petition for review and reconsideration could be filed within 60 days of the promulgation of the ordinance. Since the ordinance was issued on May 20, the deadline expired on July 20. In its petition before the IHC, the government has moved the IHC to appoint a counsel to review and reconsider the verdict of the military court in accordance with the decision of the ICJ. The Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch of General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Ministry of Defence have been made parties in the petition.
The government has further stated that Jadhav refused to file a review petition or an application to reconsider the verdict, adding that he did not have independent sources to hire counsel to represent him.
On July 16, Pakistan offered India third consular access to Jadhav as the day before Indian diplomats walked out of the meeting without hearing him. According to the petition, the Indian spy cannot appoint a legal representative in Pakistan without the assistance of India, while New Delhi is also reluctant to avail the facility under the ordinance. The petition requested the court to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that Pakistan could fulfill its responsibility according to the ICJ’s ruling.