India said on Wednesday that former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistan Army court, had “clearly been coerced” into not appealing against his April 2017 conviction.
The Indian response came after Pakistan claimed earlier in the day that Mr. Jadhav, arrested on charges of espionage and terrorism in 2016, had refused to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court.
Speaking at a special briefing arranged by the Pakistani Foreign Office in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Additional Attorney-General Ahmed Irfan stated that an ordinance had been issued in May that allowed Mr. Jadhav, his legal representative, or a representative of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to file a review petition in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict of July 2019.
“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,” an External Affairs Ministry statement said.
It’s interesting that Mr. Jadhav, whose sentence was handed down by a Pakistani Army field general court martial, has now been extended the right to appeal in a civilian court – the Islamabad High Court. (Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed the court martial verdict).
Mr. Irfan claimed that on June 17 Mr. Jadhav was “invited” to file a review petition in the Islamabad High Court against his sentence, but chose not to do so. Mr. Jadhav, instead, “preferred to follow-up” on his pending “mercy” petition.
The Pakistani legal officer also claimed that they had written repeatedly to the Indian High Commission to file a review petition on behalf of Mr. Jadhav.
India, on the other hand, said Pakistan had all along maintained that their laws allowed for effective review and reconsideration. “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,” the Ministry added.
In its July 2019 verdict, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to review Mr. Jadhav’s death sentence, ruling that India’s right to have consular access to its national had been violated.
Pakistan “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”, the judges said.
“A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav,” the world court ruled.
Following the ICJ judgment, India finally obtained consular access to Mr. Jadhav in September 2019 – but only in the presence of video cameras and Pakistani officials.
According to the deadline given by Pakistan on Wednesday, Mr. Jadhav has until July 20 to file an application petition against his conviction and sentence in the Islamabad High Court.
Mr. Irfan also claimed that Pakistan had also offered India consular access to Mr. Jadhav for a second time.