India today asked Pakistan to address the “shortcomings” in a Bill brought out to facilitate reviewing the case of Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying the proposed law does not create a mechanism to reconsider it as mandated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi criticised the provision in the Bill to invite municipal courts to decide whether any prejudice has been caused to Mr Jadhav by Pakistan on account of its failure to provide consular access in accordance the verdict of the ICJ.
He said the Review and Reconsideration Bill 2020 does not create a mechanism to facilitate effective review and reconsideration of Mr Jadhav’s case as mandated by the judgement of the ICJ, adding that municipal courts cannot be the arbiter of whether a state has fulfilled its obligations in international law.
“This is clearly a breach of the basic tenet that municipal courts cannot be the arbiter of whether a state has fulfilled its obligations in international law. Not only this, it further invites the municipal court to sit in appeal, as it were, over the judgement of the ICJ,” Mr Bagchi said.
Mr Jadhav, a 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
After India approached it, the Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
“The Bill codifies into law the earlier ordinance with all its shortcomings. It does not create a machinery to facilitate effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s case, as mandated by the judgement of the International Court of Justice,” Mr Bagchi said at a media briefing.
He said the ICJ had ruled that Pakistan was in breach of its international obligations because of the failure to provide consular access to Mr Jadhav. Pakistan had earlier brought an ordinance to provide for the right to appeal to Mr Jadhav as ruled by the ICJ.
“The ordinance, now the Bill, invites the municipal courts in Pakistan to decide whether or not any prejudice has been caused to Jadhav on account of the failure to provide consular access,” he said.
Mr Bagchi added: “We call upon Pakistan to take appropriate steps to address the shortcomings in the Bill and to comply with the judgement of the ICJ in letter and spirit.”
On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court adjourned the hearing of the government’s plea to appoint counsel for Mr Jadhav till October 5 at the request of the Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan, according to Pakistani media reports.