Islamabad coerced Jadhav to refuse case review; reacts India

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Nation special report

ISLAMABAD: In a latest development in Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case on Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Office has stated that he has refused Pakistan’s offer to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his conviction, and has decided to go ahead with his pending mercy plea instead.

Mr. Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan while attempting to cross over into Pakistan through country’s border with Iran. Subsequently, in April 2017, a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) handed him death sentence on charges of espionage and terrorism.

It is also a claim that Jadhav was carrying the passport in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel — a serving commander of the Indian Navy and associated with Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing.

India has refuted Pakistan’s claims about Jadhav’s involvement in spying and subversive activities and said he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar where he was running a business.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Additional Attorney General Ahmed Irfan and Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry address a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday.

In a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Ahmed Irfan and Director General (South Asia and SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said that an ordinance was promulgated by the government on May 20, which allowed the Indian government, Jadhav and his legal representative to file a review petition in IHC within 60 days, which is due to expire on July 19.

They said Indian authorities had requested to appoint an Indian counsel to advocate for Jadhav but if an appeal is filed in the IHC, only a lawyer that holds a license of the respective court would be able to represent the spy. Therefore, an Indian lawyer cannot advocate for the convicted spy but they may be allowed to assist Jadhav’s counsel.

Pakistan had allowed consular access to Jadhav twice in the past and has offered to do so again, the officials said. Authorities have also offered to arrange Jadhav’s meeting with his father and wife, they added. The two officials expressed hope that the Indian government will respond positively to this offer.

Both officials recalled that Pakistan had earlier allowed Jadhav’s mother and wife to meet him and said that the government had complied with the verdict of the International Court of Justice passed last year. They said Pakistan had provided evidence of Indian state terrorism to the international community multiple times and will continue to do so.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

On April 10, 2017, Pak Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa had endorsed the death penalty for Jadhav. In June 2017, the Indian national had filed a mercy petition against the death penalty.  However, before Pakistani authorities could make a final decision, the ICJ, after being approached by India, had ordered a stay in his execution through an interim order in 2019.

Later that year, ICJ announced its verdict in the case, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”. The ICJ, however, rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistan from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav’s release and ordering his return to India.

On June 17, 2020, Kulbhushan Jadhav was invited to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction. Exercising his legal right he refused to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction, the Additional Attorney General added.
India’s point of view

India has refuted Pakistan’s claim and called it a farce. In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also accused Pakistan of coercing Jadhav, a former navy officer who was sentenced to death, to refuse to file a review in his case.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava reacting to Pakistan’s statement said that India sought unimpeded access to Jadhav to discuss his remedies under the Ordinance that allowed the High Court to review the sentence awarded by Pakistan’s military court.

Srivastava said that the Indian government will do its utmost to protect Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. “To that end, it would consider all appropriate options,” he said.

Following is the full statement issued by MEA on the issue:

“We have been pursuing through diplomatic channels full and effective implementation of the ICJ judgment in the case of Shri Kulbushan Jadhav. The media statement made by Pakistan today in the case seeks to mask its continuing reticence to implement ICJ judgment in letter and spirit.

Pakistan’s claim that Shri Jadhav, who is incarcerated in Pakistan’s custody, has refused to initiate review petition is a continuation of the farce that has been in play for the last four years. Shri Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial. He remains under custody of Pakistan’s military. He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case. India sought unimpeded access to Shri Jadhav to discuss his remedies under the Ordinance. In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Shri Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the ICJ.

Pakistan has on 20 May 2020 passed an Ordinance to allow for the High Court to review the sentence awarded by their military court. They have all along maintained that their laws allowed for effective review and reconsideration while we have protested it all along. Now, after almost a year, they have made a u-turn and issued an Ordinance to ostensibly provide for some sort of review. We have already expressed our serious concerns at the content of the Ordinance and how it violates the ICJ judgment. Pakistan is only seeking to create an illusion of remedy.

Despite our repeated requests, Pakistan continues to deny India free and unimpeded access to Shri Jadhav. India has repeatedly asked to allow a lawyer from outside Pakistan to appear for Shri Jadhav in any review and reconsideration proceedings. Pakistan has denied it. Since 2017, when Military Court carried out a farcical trial, Pakistan has refused to hand over any relevant document, including FIR, evidence, court order, etc in the case to India. Clearly, Pakistan is attempting to create a mirage of compliance with the ICJ judgment.

ICJ has already held that Pakistan is in egregious violation of international law. Government will do its utmost to protect Shri Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. To that end, it would consider all appropriate options.”