The second deadline set by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for India to appoint a legal representative for convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav expired on Tuesday, while two senior lawyers of the country excused themselves from providing judicial assistance.
Pakistan has repeatedly invited the Indian government to pursue the case of the convicted Indian Naval intelligence officer but New Delhi has yet to appoint a legal representative.
During today's hearing, the bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing the law ministry's request to provide counsel to Jadhav.
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 awarded to him by a military court.
Justice Minallah instructed the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan to determine if the court can appoint a legal representative for Jadhav – sans his or India's approval – and what consequences such a move would have.
The chief justice also asked if the convicted spy was provided with a copy of the previous hearing's order, to which the AGP replied in the affirmative.
"India should submit an application and obtain the documents through legal channels," said the AGP. The chief justice then adjourned the hearing of the case till November 9.
Lawyer Abid Hassan Manto has excused himself due to ill health and counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan excused himself from appearing on professional grounds. However, both lawyers submitted a reply to the court saying that it was a matter of honour for them to be appointed as judicial assistants.
On August 3, a two-member bench of the IHC heard the petition filed by the defence secretary regarding the appointment of a legal representative for Jadhav following the orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Indian spy’s sentence.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan had informed the court that Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, for illegally entering Pakistan and the Indian spy on behalf of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had admitted of being involved in espionage activities in his confessional statement before the magistrate.
The AGP had also told the IHC that a military court had sentenced Jadhav after conducting his trial according to the Army Act and Official Secret Act after which, in 2017, India approached the ICJ.
The court was further informed that India had accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and denying consular access to Jadhav and that the ICJ had issued a stay order on his execution, which exists till to-date.
The AGP said that in pursuance of the ICJ orders, an ordinance was issued and Jadhav was given a chance to file a review petition against his sentence.
He had reiterated that Jadhav was given full right to file a review appeal against his death sentence and added that India was now running away from the ICJ’s decision.