India can appoint spy’s counsel till June 15

IHC says Indian high commissioner should tell court how ICJ order could be implemented


Saqib Bashir May 05, 2021
Kulbhushan Jadhav. VIDEO SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

The state’s top law officer has told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that India has rejected Pakistan’s proposal to appoint a counsel for convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and has taken the stance that it will violate India’s sovereignty if an Indian citizen is put on trial in a Pakistani court.

“Interestingly, India defended its eight other convicted citizens in the same court [IHC]. If the trial of Jadhav [by the IHC] is a violation of Indian sovereignty then why is the trial of eight other prisoners not an equal violation,” Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan said on Wednesday.

AGP Khan was addressing a larger bench of the IHC, presided over by Chief Justice Athar Minallah. The bench was hearing a governmental application to appoint a counsel for Jadhav to defend him during hearing of an appeal against a death sentence awarded to him by a Pakistani military court.

The AGP said it is not true that the government is desperate to offer some relief to Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) operative who was arrested on March 3, 2016 during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan.

A Field General Court Martial in Pakistan sentenced Jadhav to death on April 10, 2017 for fuelling terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi. India later moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which stayed the execution pending the final judgment on the case.

On July 17, 2019, the ICJ rejected India's appeal for Jadhav's release but ordered Pakistan to suspend the execution. It ruled that

Pakistan would have to review the entire process of the trial and conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav and provide India with consular access.

“We are not imploring India. We have no sympathy for the killer of Pakistanis. We only want to comply with the order of the ICJ and have even issued an ordinance in this regard,” Khan said.

He said India has communicated in writing that it will not pursue the case in any Pakistani court. However, India’s position is contradictory as it is not accepting Pakistani court in Jadhav case but defending some other Indian convicts in the same courts.

Khalid Javed Khan said copies of all the court orders are provided to Kulbhushan Jadhav but he is not ready to move any court against his April 2017 conviction.

Justice Athar Minallah said it seemed that the Indian High Commission had some misunderstanding about the IHC proceedings.

Can we comply with the ICJ order even if India refuses to appoint a counsel for Jadhav? he asked.

“It would be better to ask the Indian high commissioner as to how the ICJ order could be implemented. India should appoint a representative to inform the court as to what it wants to do,” he said.

The judge noted that the case is not about India’s sovereignty and the court has no doubts about it. He said the case involves a human life and the court is interested in ensuring justice. 

Senior lawyer Hamid Khan who was appointed as amicus curiae in the case argued that the government shouldn’t have filed an appeal on behalf of Jadhav. The AGP, however, took exception to the comment and said: “In that case, Pakistan would be facing the ICJ’s contempt proceedings.”

The bench later accepted the AGP’s request to give India another chance to appoint a counsel for Jadhav by June 15, the date on which the court will resume hearing of the case.

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