New Delhi: Indian officials should be provided another chance to appoint a lawyer for Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Islamabad High Court said on Monday, reported Pakistan media.
The decision came less than a fortnight after India accused Pakistan of blocking all chances of legal remedy for Mr Jadhav, an Indian national sentenced to death on charges of espionage. Pakistan, the foreign ministry said, had blocked 12 Indian requests for unimpeded consular meetings, defying the International Court of Justice.
Since his death sentence by a military court in 2017, Pakistan has allowed consular access to Mr Jadhav only twice. Both meetings were monitored and recorded and there was no free conversation, India said.
During the second meeting — which took place last month ahead of filing of the review petition — Mr Jadhav was accompanied by Pakistani officials and under “visible stress”, India said. The foreign ministry said the consular officials “could not engage” Mr Jadhav on his legal rights and were “prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation”.
Today, a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court heard a petition filed by the Pakistan government for the appointment of a lawyer for Mr Jadhav. In the petition, the government asked the court to appoint a lawyer. It also said Mr Jadhav had refused to file a petition for a review of the death sentence by the military court and wanted to appeal for mercy.
“Now that the matter is in the high court, why not give India another chance,” Justice Athar Minallah, one of the two judges, was quoted as saying by Geo News. The Indian government or Mr Jadhav may reconsider their decision regarding the review petition, the judge added.
The next hearing of the case will be held on September 3.
In July last year, the International Court of Justice said Pakistan must review the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav. The court also agreed with India’s stand that Pakistan had violated the Vienna convention by denying consular access to him after his conviction in a “farcical” closed trial.
After the order, the first consular access was given in September 2019.
In March 2016, Pakistan arrested Mr Jadhav, a former Naval officer, and accused him of “espionage” — a charge India rubbished. After he was sentenced to death, India took Pakistan to the world court.