New Delhi, July 8
India on Wednesday accused Pakistan of coercing former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav into not filing an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against his death sentence by a military court.
Pakistan’s claim that Jadhav has refused to initiate a review petition is a “continuation of the farce” that has been in play for the last four years. Jadhav was also sentenced to execution through a farcical trial, asserted the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
“He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case,” he added.
At a press conference staged at the Pakistan Foreign Office earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Additional Attorney General Ahmed Irfan said the authorities had asked Jadhav to file a review petition but he instead opted to apply for a mercy petition.
In an attempt to divert public attention to the case, he said Jadhav can meet his father and wife, in case India is willing. After denying 22 requests, Pakistan had allowed a 40-minute meeting with his wife and mother in 2018, two years after he was detained. Jadhav’s second meeting was with Indian Charge de Affaires in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia in late 2019.
However, there are still 11 days to go for Jadhav or his legal representative to file a review petition in the Islamabad High Court after Pakistan issued an Ordinance on May 20 giving him six months to comply with an International Court of Justice (ICJ) order in the case. The six-month period is end on July 19.
Shrivastava said the media statement made by Pakistan “masks its continuing reticence” to implement ICJ judgment in letter and spirit. India had sought unimpeded access to discuss his remedies under the Ordinance.
“They 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,” he pointed out.
India has already expressed its serious concern at the content of the Ordinance and how it violates the ICJ judgment.
India has also asked to allow a lawyer from outside Pakistan to appear for Jadhav in any review and reconsideration proceedings. However, Pakistan says only a lawyer holding the licence of a particular court can represent clients.
The MEA said Pakistan has also refused to hand over any relevant document, including FIR, evidence and court order to India. “Clearly, Pakistan is attempting to create a mirage of compliance with the ICJ judgment. The Government will do its utmost to protect Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. To that end, it would consider all appropriate options,” it declared.
Jadhav was arrested/kidnapped by Pakistan authorities on March 3, 2016, on allegations of espionage and terrorism. In his trial at a military court, he allegedly confessed to his involvement in terrorist plots and was sentenced to death in 2017. The case went to ICJ, which asked Pakistan to cease violating Article 36 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and review and reconsider the case in light of how that violation may have affected the case’s outcome.